Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Opportunity & Responsibility by Brett Magrath

When I think back to the early days of starting up businesses these two factors have always played an interesting role. As an entrepreneur you are always on the lookout for opportunities. There are those that dream of the day and those that grab the opportunities with both hands. The interesting dynamic is that at no stage did I ever even consider the responsibility that came along with such a decision.

In 2007 when Brad and I first started working on Zoona there was an opportunity to get back into the entrepreneurial world, where we could control our own destiny. This time it was round three and maybe even the last chance after previous failed attempts. The opportunity was bigger, but having experienced failure before, plus I was now married to Cath with Eva on the way, this meant that the responsibilities of chasing this opportunity became a little more real.

By June 2009 we had a Bank of Zambia license, had past 1000 transactions in a month, we had built up our staff base and most importantly had proven we could survive…somehow. The opportunity was growing and the idea of become a successful Zambian money transfer business was real, but as always, as the opportunity got bigger so too did the responsibility. From a personal stand point Eva was now 2 years old and Cath was now pregnant with Jasper. My personal responsibilities had grown tremendously, but with the business growth the responsibilities towards our employees was also growing. Lots of things come to mind but two early examples that cross my mind are convincing Konrad to leave his job to join us right back in the early days and signing a bond application form for Leshain knowing she was now dependent on us being successful.

Over the years there have been numerous phases of opportunities and responsibilities and it has been great. The growth, in particular of our employees, which is our driver to achieve our goals. As a business Zoona has always set big goals, but those around us know we are building a track record of achieving them. If we look at our company WIG’s, this approach is strongly embedded in the company’s DNA and achieving these goals is no longer about certain individuals, but about ensuring that everyone in the company is ready to grab the opportunity with two hands knowing the responsibilities that come with it.

Having taken some time off on over the December holidays, it’s allowed me to reflect about what I see as the current state of Zoona’s opportunity and responsibility:

Opportunity:
I truly do believe that Zoona is well positioned to become a billion dollar business, I have listened to Mike say this for a number of years, but I am now a true believer. I genuinely believe that with our achievements to date and the team we are building that we have got to a level where this is more real than becoming a successful Zambian business was in 2009.

Responsibility:
Over the years I have seen a migration from personal responsibility to employee responsibility and now a responsibility to our agents. With our new focus on the consumer, it is time to fundamentally change how our market transacts and how their economies function. We need to move from being nominated as one of the top ten companies in the world to help girls out of poverty to THE top company that HAS achieved this. Our Zoona model can truly deliver impact and we need to take on the responsibility of understanding our customers and consumers and ensure that our products and services meet their expectations. By doing these simple things and ensuring that each day we are turning ideas into actions as rapidly as possible, we will achieve this.

Here’s to a great 2015!

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