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InvestSure: Inspired by the need for investors to manage fraud risks that can be unforeseen – Mbulelo Mpofana

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From left- Ettienne Myburgh (Easy Equities), Mbulelo Mpofana, Carly Barnes (Easy Equities), Shane Curran and Ignatious Nkwinika.

Based in Johannesburg and founded by Shane Curran, Mbulelo Mpofana and Ignatious Nkwinika. InvestSure is a new insurance product that insures listed shares bought on participating trading platforms, against losses arising out of the deceptive or misleading acts of management of the company. The insurance is offered on shares listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE), with plans to insure shares in global markets in future. Investors can insure their shares as they buy them, as well as insure their existing portfolio. This product is a world first innovation, developed in South Africa and supported by global partners. In this interview with  Alaba Ayinuola  of Business Africa Online. Mbulelo Mpofana- Co-Founder & COO at InvestSure talked about the inspiration behind InvestSure, how they got funded and the future for their brand. Excerpt.

 

Alaba: Kindly tell us about InvestSure and the gap it’s filling.

Mbulelo: InvestSure is an insurtech startup that has developed APIs that enable share trading platforms to sell their unique insurance product. InvestSure has developed a world-first insurance product that provides shareholders protection against losses in the share price which are caused by management misleading and deceiving shareholders. The product is currently available on Easy Equities.

In the wake of the Volkswagen (VW) emissions scandal we noticed that the share price had dropped significantly, yet there was no recourse to investors who had invested in the company not knowing that VW weren’t all they made out to be. After that multiple similar events around the world prompted us to think that investors should have some kind of protection for these events.  Management fraud presents a difficult to manage and asses risk for investors (even sophisticated investors). It is often caused by deception on the part of trusted managers who are much closer to the business on a daily basis.

There was simply no accessible, simple and cost effective product to allow investors to protect themselves from the risk of being blindsided by management of the companies they invest in. We also think this product can make investing more accessible by simplifying the decision process and allow people to invest with more confidence, knowing they have this “sleep easy” cover.

On the tech side InvestSure provides a set of APIs that trading platform developers can use to integrate their insurance product seamlessly into their websites and applications. Once InvestSure’s technology is added to a trading platform, it enables users to easily buy insurance on their shares with a single click. The full process from buying to insurance to settling claims is fully automated.

 

Alaba: What was your startup capital and how were you able to raise it? 

Mbulelo: Entrepreneurs often talk about needing a bit of luck; we had our right at the beginning. We were very fortunate to partner with Hannover RE from a very early stage; the Africa region MD liked the product idea from the get go. They agreed to incubate and fund the founding team until we actually launched through their specialist insurance subsidiary Compass Insure. Compass is the insurer behind the product and is now also a shareholder in InvestSure. We also won R1-million at a pitch event run by AlphaCode, Merrill Lynch South Africa and Royal Bafokeng Holdings. The initial funding from Compass formed part of our recently announced R9.6m funding round.

 

Alaba: As a startup, what are the challenges and how are you overcoming them?

Mbulelo: We have been fortunate in many respects to have secured support from a multinational insurance giant at idea stage so our set of challenges are of a different nature than most innovative startups. For us the challenges included:

  1.  Navigating the internal processes of our partner companies; these can result in long delays and take up a lot of the founders’ time.
  2. Linked to the above, the other big challenge was the B-2-B aspect of the business, established companies move much slower than we were able to, especially on the IT and decision making sides, and this created some frustration for us as well as increasing time to market (and cash spent before getting to market).
  3. Managing the at time conflicting objectives of all partners and stakeholder to make the business relationship worthwhile for all parties, especially with a unusually low cost product like ours.  The insurance industry is still used to high distribution cost models.
  4. Client education, we’ve tried to make the product quite simple but there are still misunderstandings we find in terms of people getting what the product does, the value in it and how it’s different to things like put options.
  5. Awareness, spreading awareness of the product on a tight budget is always a challenge!

 

Alaba: What advice would you give potential entrepreneurs who intend to start a business or invest in Africa?

Mbulelo: There is a lot of advice from much smarter and successful people than me out there! I’ll stick to specifically insurtech were I have more experience and less has been said about.

Our advice for anyone trying to create a new product is to partner with an established player. This allows you the time to focus on the product design and development, rather than trying to deal with the insurance regulatory mine-field. You can always change direction once the product is established. It also allows you much easier access to flexible capital,  accessing their networks and relationships, instant credibility enhancement and tapping into internal expertise to name a few. I’ve found that more and more companies are seeing value in partnerships with disruptive innovators.

Investors in South Africa are much more profit focused and will look for shorter break even time frames over and above big opportunity. It is therefore important to manage costs down.

 

Alaba: What’s the future for InvestSure and what steps are you taking in achieving them?

Mbulelo: There is a ton of scope for us to grow in South Africa, we are looking to do this by increasing our penetration rate on Easy Equities (our first platform partner) and we are keen on signing up other trading platforms as well which will increase our accessible market.

We are also keen to take advantage of the uniqueness of the product by taking it to other markets; initially we are looking at Australia and the UK as markets with similar regulation and business culture as SA.

Alaba: How is your business contributing to the development of Africa?

Mbulelo: We are embracing the idea of “community” in the startup scene and engaging with many other founders as well as people who are interested. We have also actively sought to use our network to create opportunities for other startups e.g. at least one other startup has secured funding from our shareholders through our initial intro; quite a few others are in talks with them.

 

Alaba: What’s your view on the development of Africa InsurTech ecosystem?

Mbulelo: I think it’s small but high quality even compared to the US and UK. I see a lot of innovation around the intersection of hardware/devices and insurance in Africa and I think we can be a player in that space. I also think it’s growing especially as more corporate become open to collaborating and funding insurtech startups. Insurance has a very bad image and many insurtech’s are creating a fairer and more transparent version of doing things which I think will appeal to consumers more and more over time.

 

Alaba: How do you feel as an African entrepreneur?

Mbulelo: I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur so this is a dream for me. From an African perspective, I’m proud we could create something that has surprised even the global executives of a company like Hannover Re and bring a new insurance product to the global insurance market. Africans continue to innovate and create value though new products and business models so it shouldn’t be a surprise to people but for some reason it still is! Hannover Re South Africa itself is seen as the innovation sub for the group which is testament to the unique thinking and creativity in Africa.

 

Alaba: How do you and partners relax and what books do you read?

Mbulelo: Sports is a consistent passion across the team for sports, I more watch than play these days but Shane plays soccer like 2 or 3 times a week. We also like to travel and spend time with family. We tend to read a lot of business related books. I also like to read about politics and historical figures.

 

Alaba: Please teach us one word in your home language and your favorite local dish?

Mbulelo: Nkululeko- which means freedom in isiZulu, Freedom Day in SA is coming up on Saturday 27 April. Can’t pick an outright favorite but will mention two- Putu with Amasi and I also love Biltong.

 

Alaba: What’s your favorite holiday spot in your country?

Mbulelo: It changes over time but current would say rural KZN around the town of Port Shepstone and further down the coast. It’s really beautiful and still quite natural in parts. I also have family around those parts.

Also Read SMEs: Before you sign that deed of guarantee | Morenike Okebu

Bio’s:

Shane Curran- Co-Founder & MD

Shane is a Chartered Accountant (CA(SA)) who originally saw the opportunity to approach Hannover Re Group Africa with an idea for a new insurance product. He believes that investing in shares is crucial to enhancing one’s wealth over the long term, but that certain risks could seriously harm that long term wealth growth. In his personal time he enjoys soccer, reading, holidays and spending time with friends and family.

Mbulelo Mpofana- Co-Founder & COO

Mbulelo teamed up with Shane to develop this unique insurance idea after gaining 6 years insurance experience, covering most technical areas of the industry including actuarial, capital management and risk management. Mbulelo has an enthusiasm for entrepreneurship and loves finding pragmatic and practical solutions to challenging problems.

Ignatious Nkwinika- Co-Founder & CTO

Before designing and building InvestSure’s tech from scratch, Iggy gained over 14 years of experience as an IT Solutions Architect including over 6 years in insurance. He is passionate about technology development and finding innovative solutions within the insurance industry.

 

Visit InvestSure today!

 

Afripreneur

Looking Back, Moving On: My little entrepreneurship journey in Africa

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Zoussi Ley (Entrepreneur & Marketer)

When I concluded my Masters from IE Business School in Spain, I flirted with the thought of moving back to Africa. I wanted to work in an impactful and growing sector. I was drawn to the Tech industry, mostly because its impact is felt across other sectors. I truly believed technology held the keys to the continent’s economic development. I truly believed technology held the keys to the continent’s economic development. Hence, when I was offered a position at an Ivorian AgTech company, WeFly Agri, I packed my bags and moved to Abidjan.

My time in Ivory Coast came to an end when I had gathered enough to begin the entrepreneurship journey. While researching the African AgTech ecosystem, I found out about Complete Farmer, a crowd-farming platform based in Ghana. I was mesmerized by the concept of involving everyday people in African agriculture.

Coincidentally, I met one of the co-founders at DEMO Africa in October last year, where I got to learn more about the company and the team. I wanted to be part of that journey and contribute to the vision. Joining this venture felt right so within a few days of meeting the co-founder, I moved to Accra, Ghana to assume the role of Chief Marketing Officer at Complete Farmer.

During my time in Ghana, I got to meet and build a strong network of players across the food industry/agricultural value chain — from commercial farmers to commodities traders, supermarkets and agro-processing firms. A major new player I got to deal with is the Ghana Commodities Exchange (GCX), the first ever regulated market linking buyers and sellers of agricultural products in West Africa.

After passing the certification, I was able to start trading at the GCX. This move allowed Complete Farmer to gain access to a wide range of market actors, thereby creating opportunities for the company to increase its revenue streams.

Ghana taught me that a conducive ecosystem can make the tough entrepreneurship journey an enjoyable one. In fact, Complete Farmer was incubated by Pan-African incubator MEST, meaning my team and I were working out of the incubator’s office space alongside other entrepreneurs. I loved the MEST environment. As entrepreneurs, we received practical advice, got introduced to ecosystem partners and most importantly, I truly valued the guidance I got from the fellows and entrepreneurs.

My time at Complete Farmer illustrated the not-so-obvious benefits to having competitors. Of course, every entrepreneur should pay some attention to their competitors, as they’re an important part of business. Understanding how our competitors operate allows us to avoid making their own mistakes while giving us ideas to expand our market.

Being an entrepreneur in Africa also means collaborating with other startups. With Complete Farmer, I got to partner with Jetstream for logistics services, Qualitrace for agro chemicals and Stanbest for irrigation systems and this was exciting working with other stakeholders in the agriculture sector.

On a personal note, I have also learned from many challenging and enlightening experiences through my journey. The first lesson has been to master my thoughts and emotions. Most lessons come from failures and setbacks. Although painful experiences, they develop the self-awareness to grow. They forced me to spend time on mastering my thoughts and emotions. As entrepreneurs, our cool is often tested.

Not being able to resist these frazzled emotions can lead an individual to react the wrong way, thereby causing setbacks and more failures. I learned that being clear-headed before making a decision gives me an edge when handling challenging situations.

Africa Tech Summit in Kigali, Rwanda

My experience in Ghana showed the importance of building a network. As an entrepreneur, I quickly realized the importance of building relationships with other key players of the ecosystem — entrepreneurs, influencers, media platforms, investors and international organizations. You never know when an opportunity to collaborate may come!

Being an entrepreneur in Africa also taught me to stay curious and not stick to what I know. I had to learn to do my research on other industries, companies, and business models; to always be prepared to welcome new ideas and opportunities. All in all, I learned to embrace the challenges for personal growth and to find true joy in my entrepreneurship journey.

More so, I have come to appreciate researching about the vision and values of the organizations you work with. We get excited about new ventures, the prospects of building something new and having our names on a business card that I am a Co-Founder too. However, my experience over time, has taught me that doing your due diligence on the industry and your team while having a common goal and clear vision with your colleagues will get any start-up off the ground and running at a phenomenal pace.

So, in this light, I am stepping down from my role at Complete Farmer to pursue new and exciting opportunities in Lagos, Nigeria. I am grateful for my experience, the lows, the highs, the blessings and the lessons learned.

Also Read Chaka, A Global Trading Platform Launches In Nigeria

While I will remain in AgTech, I am exploring the personal care and beauty industry, a sector I believe technology can help redefine in Africa. I look forward to bringing my creativity and experience into this industry, from the economical heart of Africa — Lagos.

By Zoussi Ley (Entrepreneur & Marketer)

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Afripreneur

Cynthia M. Wright: On Becoming A Successful Speaker, Business Mentor And Organisational Strategist

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Cynthia M. Wright, author of “The Purposeful Leader- 10 Steps to success.”

Ambition and motivation are an essential driving force for success. For Australia Day Ambassador, Organisational strategist, Social Entrepreneur and Global Purpose Leader Cynthia Musafili Wright, this internal drive spearheaded her career from nursing in Aged Car to a well-known consultant in the field. Like a renaissance woman, Cynthia spread her interests and with a healthy dose of enthusiasm became a successful keynote speaker, career and business mentor, global purpose leader as well as an organizational strategist.

 

Alaba: Tell us about yourself and what you do?

Cynthia: Cynthia Musafili Wright is a leader. Finding a better way was always one of my qualities since I arrived in Australia. I started as an assistant in nursing in Aged Care, and in a couple of years; I became a registered nurse and then a clinical nurse manager, then a clinical consultant. I tried to broaden my areas of expertise and got familiar with healthcare management, regulation compliance, and Meditech fields. All this opened the gate for Aged Care business model consultant career.

 

Alaba: What sparked your interest and passion for aged care and mental health?

Cynthia: Understanding the challenges of Aged Care business from top to bottom in developed countries helped me turn-around several facilities that failed to achieve Outcomes of the Aged Care National Standards successfully. My experience in organizing clinical management teams came to fruition and helped in restructuring. In all my actions, I try to have a positive impact.

Being around Aged Care organisations naturally led me further in that direction, and as for mental health, I recognized in many ways the importance of mental wellbeing and decided to make it my cause also. I go by the motto, if we don’t feel right in the heard, we can’t function well physically. As officially defined by the World Health Organization, health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

 

Alaba: How has it being as an African Diaspora based in Australia with Africa in your heart?

Cynthia: I was born in Zambia and migrated to study in Australia at age 19. Being in Australia didn’t make me forget about my African roots. That is why I founded my social enterprise – Regions International once my career took off. The organization provides mentorship and advice for startups and SME who want to scale up into the African market.

Regions International collaborates with global organisations to host meaningful events to foster dialogue and discussion about investments, capacity building and socio-economic development for the African Continent. Another vital role for Regions is fostering sustainable corporate social responsibility projects in Africa and Australia.

Also Read Lillian Barnard: Tech Enthusiast And First Female Managing Director, Microsoft South Africa

Alaba: How are you using your influence and connecting to attract investment to Africa?

Cynthia: I’m a Country leader for Australia for organization called Innovative Africa. In this role, my team and I connect the tissue between the two continents. We aim to help incubate and birth real success stories of innovations that will touch the lives of Africans by providing an African Market Entry Solution and growth structures that will help drive prosperity into the African continent.

The innovate Africa global team lead by Founder and Global CEO Dotun Adeoye and Paulo Mukooza – Global Commercial Director, continues to work across many countries as a support framework for entrepreneurs looking to bring their market-creating innovation to life and companies looking to expand into the African continent. More on what we do visit Innovate Africa

 

Alaba: Kindly share your leadership journey.

Cynthia: One thing is sure, Cynthia Wright won’t be outspoken. I think I’m dynamic, try to be educational, and above all, inspiring in my work. My leadership journey goes beyond the titles I wear, it is quantifiable. As a leader, the main aim should always be moving forward that which has been given to you. If you are not moving things forward, then you cannot quantify your impact.

I do a lot of speaking and I am privileged to speak to crowds on topics that have been strongly influenced by my path. Topics such as Leadership and Purpose, I strive to inspire personal growth and build leadership qualities. Social issues are also part of my most inspiring speeches, where I have talked about migration, inclusion and diversity. Creating leaders is something I’m passionate about.

 

Alaba: What have you learned along the way that has helped shape you in your journey?

Cynthia: The key to my success both in career and business is centered on the ability to maintain partnerships and collaborations. Creating connections and understanding that it’s a give and take relationship contributed to success in so many fields. That social component, as well as constant learning and hard work, shaped me into the person that I am today.

I’m an Australia Day Ambassador, where I participate in awarding new Australian citizens, providing support in understanding civics and citizenship, active citizenship and promoting the Australian brand. On these occasions, I am honored with the role of a keynote speaker where I talk about Resilience, Skilled Migration, Leadership, Active Citizenship, and other relevant topics.

I am also work with the global brand of Tedx. I am the TEDx Perth partnership manager. This role allows me to create partnerships and collaborative approaches to achieving excellent goals and outcomes for our global viewership. I have many other roles that I am fully engaged in. more can be found on my website www.cynthiawright.org

Alaba: What are your projects for Africa and how are you engaging Africans in the continent to achieve them?

Cynthia: Through the Regions Foundations, I work with local Zambian hospitals to improve and enhance the best clinical practice. We also support rural Zambian hospitals with necessary clinical supplies and connect them with Australian clinical and hospital stakeholders. Regions also provide hospital-grade linen, wheelchairs, hospital beds and surgical supplies to rural hospitals and orphanages in Zambia.

Apart from my philanthropist projects, I have recently been engaging African talents in IT and graphic designing for all my upcoming projects and I am so excited to share this with my tribe in the next coming months. Without revealing too much information, I am also working on an infrastructure project for Ghana – where we intend to build a city for the future. More on this to come in the following months. Watch this space.

 

Alaba: Describe yourself in one word, and why?

Cynthia: Fearless. Most of us know what to do, but don’t take the actions to follow through on our goals. We tell ourselves that we are not smart enough, not strong enough or brave enough. What hold us back are not our capabilities – it’s the fear of failure. It’s okay to be afraid, but it is not okay to let fear stop you. I have learnt to set goals, identify what was holding me back, and learn to move past fear.

 

Alaba: How are you changing the negative narratives of African migrants in the Diaspora?

Cynthia: By owning my African heritage story and telling it loud and clear in my own works and through my work time and time again. We are our own best media, if we don’t tell our stories the way they should be told, no one will. That is why I founded Africa writes Australia – a platform focused on promoting positive narratives through story telling. More about Africa Writes Australia

 

Alaba: If you could make one remarkable change in the world by 2020, what would it is?

Cynthia: 2020 is in four months. I think the change I would make is to use my voice to speak more about Love and honour for each other as human beings. Without love, all this is meaningless.

 

Alaba: What’s your advice for African governments, Africans, and investors?

Cynthia: Invest in the African people. They are your best and only asset. Collaborate and engage with the African diaspora, they are a great addition to the needed skills and knowledge to foster economic development and help implement strategies for future growth. For investors, you would be crazy not to consider the African market for scaling up your business.

 

B I O G R A P H Y

Cynthia Musafili Wright is a Social Care Corporate Executive. She is currently the 2019 & 2020 Australia Day Ambassador and Australia Ambassador for Global Organisation Female Wave of Change and Founder/CEO of the Social Enterprise Regions International. Cynthia is currently a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and the TedxPerth Manager of Partnerships. She is also a publisher of various articles on Resilience, Migration, International Education, and Aged Care and a recent author of books on International Education, Purpose and Mental Health.

She is an active international student alumnus in Australia. Having attended one of the best universities in the world, Cynthia describes her international student experience as an experience that helped shape her into the leader that she is today. In addition to her leadership and career success, the international exposure and opportunities that presented as a result of her studies have contributed to positioning her on a global platform for work and business.

Cynthia is passionate about creating a positive impact in the world by creating leaders. Her success in her Career and Business comes down to her ability to build and maintain partnerships and collaborations; Her success in life is attributed by the connections she creates with others and the extent to which she can give and receive. She has created success in her roles as Clinical Consultant in Corporate Australia, with thirteen years’ experience in the Aged care industry and leadership roles.

Visit Cynthia M. Wright

 

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Afripreneur

Afripreneur Profile: Dayo Adedayo, The Man Behind The Lens

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‘dayo Adedayo was born in Nigeria in 1964 and trained as a photographer at the Westminster College and the University of Westminster, both in the United Kingdom.

His major breakthrough came when he worked as a freelance photojournalist with Ovation International, the Number 1 celebrity magazine in Africa. Several of his work adorns the front cover of the magazine for over a 4 year period and the best selling eAfdition, ‘See Dubai and Die’ in 2002 was by him.

He is the author of eleven books; Nigeria 2.0, Nigeria, Enchanting Nigeria, Nigeria The MagicalLagos State- The Centre of Excellence and Ogun State – The Gateway State, Owe Yoruba, Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation – Tourism is Life, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation 37 Years in Pictures, Rivers State – Our Proud Heritage, Tour Nigeria and Lagos State – The Centre of Excellence (A Visual Portrait).

His book, Nigeria, was the first of its kind since the creation of Nigeria since 1914. No wonder it became a sort after book by Nigerians and lovers of Nigeria.It was given out to the visiting Heads of State when Nigeria turned 50 in 2010, United Nations General Assembly in New York, 2013, Africa Union Summit on HIV/AIDS, 2013 and the West African Heads of State Security Summit in Abuja 2016 .

His work also adorned the pages of the E-Passport of Nigeria, the One Hundred Naira note to mark the centenary of Nigeria, the walls of the International Airports of Lagos, Abuja and several institutions and homes across Nigeria,and a member on the committee of setting up photography as a course in Nigeria Polytechnics.

The centenary edition of ‘MONOPOLY NIGERIA ’ by Bestman Games contains his work, so also were the pictures on display at the Presidential Wing of the Nnamdi International Airport, Abuja.

Also Read Interview: African Energy Chamber Executive Chairman, NJ Ayuk on Transforming Africa’s Energy Sector

Also between 2005 and 2007 he was the official photographer for ‘NIGERIA – THE HEART OF AFRICA’, a project that precipitated a lot of travelling all around the world, exhibiting Nigeria to the world in pictures.

Adedayo hopes that his work will add to the growing canon of contemporary African photography that seeks to challenge perceptions, broaden audiences and show the world the beauty of Nigeria like never before.

Some of his works;

Ojukwu Bunker, Abia State, Nigeria

Kwa Falls, Cross River State, Nigeria

Juju Rock, Kwara State, Nigeria

Owerre – Ezukala Cave, Anambra State, Nigeria

Victoria Island, Lagos State, Nigeria

 

Click to visit Dayo Adedayo

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