Sunday, May 13, 2012

Brad and Brett Magrath recognized as leaders in Africa

Each year, the African Leadership Network (ALN) scours the continent in search of a new generation of leaders for Africa: leaders who despite their relatively young age have tremendous influence and are thus uniquely positioned to play a role in taking Africa to a new era of prosperity.

Brad and Brett Magrath have been recognized as “New Generation Leaders for Africa” for 2012 and have been invited to join the ALN. They were chosen out of several thousand candidates and will be joining 200-300 of the "the most significant 'new generation' decision-makers on the African continent".

"Congratulations on this tremendous achievement. It is a testimony to all you have done so far and recognition of your potential to do more to drive Africa forward," said Fred Swaniker, co-founder of the ALN.

Brad and Brett are one of three individuals chosen from Zambia out of the 100+ individuals invited to join the network in 2012.

The ALN is the premier network of young, dynamic, and influential leaders in business, public sector, the arts and civil society in Africa. Their aim is to engage the collective influence of this new generation of leaders to drive prosperity for Africa’s people. Partners include MTN, JP Morgan, and McKinsey & Company.

At the same time, Brett Magrath has been recognized by The Economist Intelligence Unit as a contributor to their report on "Corporate CIOs in Emerging Markets: An Evolving Role". He was one of 366 senior executives surveyed in Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa and 10 who were interviewed in depth. The report highlights the growing importance of the Chief Information Officer (CIO) role in ensuring profitability and growth of companies in emerging markets where ‘the effective use of IT can help catapult a company from small local player to international competitor.

Congrats to both Brad and Brett!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Onto the Next Hill

“After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.”

This is a famous quote by one of the world’s greatest human beings, Nelson Mandela. I can’t think of anything that is more relevant to our business right now.

On Februrary 10, 2012, Mobile Transactions closed a $4m Series A investment round. It was a lot harder and took a lot longer than we originally thought, but as the first ever technology start-up in Zambia to close international venture capital financing, this was truly a great hill to climb (you can read our full investment story here). We’re immensely proud of this achievement and have some great new shareholders, including Omidyar Network, Accion Frontiers, and MEDA. We also have the foundations of a great board of directors, including Arjuna Costa (Omidyar), Monica Brand and her alternate Michael Murai (Accion), and Donovan Nickel (MEDA’s board observer).

But as Nelson Mandela wisely warned, we have only made it to the base camp of Mount Everest. Our vision is a Cashless Africa. Our goal is to build a billion dollar pan-African payments business. Raising $4m seems miniscule compared to these challenges.

So how do we get there?

It all starts with our team. Teams are simply collections of individuals through which the output of the whole is greater than the output of the sum of the parts. We’ve got a good team right now, but we need to add the missing pieces and develop our talent to make it a GREAT team. This won’t happen automatically – it will take a lot of hard work by everyone and there will be casualties along the way. But for those who rise to the challenge, there will be a stream of opportunities and rewards.

Next come our customers. In a start-up business, customers are like a good mechanic in Zambia: they are hard to find but once you do you don’t let them go. Customers pay our wages, test our products, and when we get it right, they do our sales and marketing for us. This is why we have made “Delight our Customers” a key strategic objective of our business, supported by our new Customer Experience department. This department is tasked with listening to and learning from our customers to understand what they love, hate, and desire from us so that we can continuously improve.

Third, we must evolve our products and services with a focus on achieving SCALE. In the short term, this means investing in our technology to develop a scalable platform, expanding our cash agent network in Zambia to lead the market with our Consumer and Agent Payments product lines, and taking our eVoucher Payments product line across Southern Africa. Looking out into the future, we want to open our platform to connect with third parties to accelerate the volume of transactions and push the boundaries of payment innovation in Africa.

There are still many more hills before we reach the summit, but if we get these three things right I have no doubt we will get there.

This post was written by Mike Quinn, CEO of Mobile Transactions

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Get Stupid! - Investment Celebration Party South Africa.

Let me start this off by quoting Brett: “Never, in all my years of being in this business, did I ever think Id witness something like that”.

Those sentiments are shared. By just about everyone I would think.

I witnessed some astounding feats last night, who knew ZOONA employees were so talented with an invisible ball?? Grahams invisible card pack not withstanding!

It such a great feeling knowing that you work with people you can just get stupid with!
From Lelemba and Thulasy’s Adele WINNING idols audition, to how Leshain “rolls” to Brett the IT gangsta, last night was just a bag of fun and then some.

Getting to see everyone in their element and just out of their work shells was priceless. One actually realises that outside work we are completely different people and that there are some lasting friendships to be built within Zoona.

To me personally, interacting with everyone on such a social, non-professional platform was awesome. One realises how much you actually have in common with the people you work with, which in turn, makes for a better working relationship.

I mean, did you ever thing you would see something like this?

I didn't think so......

This little piece just serves to say thank you to everyone who made last night possible!

Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to socialise with and get to know each other better. For allowing us to just get stupid and have enough fun to motivate us for a long time coming!

This post was written by Jade September, on the Payment Processing team in Cape Town