Focus on economic empowerment digital innovations, diversity in tech and business leadership
Tina Fisher is the co-founder and growth chief marketing officer for SnapnSave. A seasoned business woman with extensive experience in pharmaceuticals, healthtech, financial services, and marketing services. Fisher’s exceptional knowledge of strategic marketing including product positioning, brand plan development, growth hacking and launch excellence within B2C and B2B sectors positions her as a leader in the space. Here are excerpts from an interview with Heath Muchena of Business Africa Online, author and founder of Block Patrol
Heath: Do you consider SnapnSave an economic empowerment technology and do you think we have enough customer-centric innovations dominating the tech industry?
Tina: We do consider SnapnSave as a tool to aid in economic empowerment of consumers. SnapnSave helps supplement and increase consumers’ purchasing power by making groceries more affordable. Every little bit helps in a country where the cost of bread has increased 200% more than inflation. Basic food items are becoming unaffordable and SnapnSave can help consumers’ money stretch farther by getting 5-25% cashback on items. Every little bit helps.
I don’t think that there are enough customer-centric tech innovations helping consumers with the increased cost of living.We welcome and would love to partner with other organisations that help augment and supplement the average South African’s income – the more in this sector, the better. There are plenty of fintech businesses in South Africa, but how many actually have an impact on consumer economic empowerment? On pay day there are still very long lines at ATMs and banks with people taking out their monthly wages in cash. Clearly not enough has been done to enable the average South African to manage their money digitally.
Heath: How important are PPC, SEO, social media, email, and newsletter marketing in driving growth for digital businesses?
Tina: The channels a business uses to drive growth should depend entirely on how the purchaser and/or the end user of the business consumes information. Good marketing practice dictates that you market your service or product using the channel that your intended audience or customer uses to consume information. Based on this, not all channels will be relevant, nor the best use of resources. Too often businesses rely on channels such as PPC to drive demand generation, however, its not the most efficient nor most cost-effective channel.
For SnapnSave, we’ve found that social media works best for growing our business. The best advertising is a user recommending our businesses to their friends and family. Our growth has come from customer retention and putting an emphasis on keeping our customers happy so that they endorse it to others.
Heath: At SnapnSave do you build your software in-house or do you outsource?
Tina: Our platform has been built in-house.
Heath: Women in the field of technology are definitely in the minority, so why did you decide to pursue a career in tech?
Tina: Since the early 00’s, I have been passionate about how tech can have an impact on consumer behaviour. Living in London during this time, I saw the impact that digital vouchers had on my own purchasing and shopping behaviour. This is how the idea for SnapnSave was born.
Heath: As one of the speakers at the Women in Tech event in Cape Town, do you think the public benefits from having female leaders to identify with the problem of equality and diversity?
Tina: Absolutely. Its not just about highlighting the lack of women and diversity in tech, but also to highlight the fact that we need more products and services geared towards women and other diverse populations. Overseas investors are looking to grow businesses that have an impact on society, and I think this is where tech is going to take us. It is going to create opportunities and solve problems for those that need it the most.
Heath: As someone in a management position, how have you found it best to promote and nurture women in the workplace?
Tina: I work with and mentor women just starting their careers and try to give them a sense of confidence that their voice should be heard. I try to show them that their different point of view is a blessing and gives them an edge up on their colleagues.
Heath: Do you think there is a diversity issue in the tech sector? Has it affected you in any way?
Tina: There needs to be more businesses and investors focused on supporting and growing companies that improve and enhance the lives of South African women and underrepresented population. Too often I am the only woman in the room having to convince a mostly male panel the impact that SnapnSave can have on a family’s life and the fact that the majority of South Africans are living hand to mouth and struggle to make ends meet.
The trend overseas is to invest in businesses that not only make profit, but also have a social impact. Given the difficulties that we have in South Africa, its important that we create and grow businesses that can have an impact on society. Having a more diverse pool of tech founders will create businesses that solve problems for a wider portion of society, thereby creating the norm that more businesses should have an impact on society.
Heath: What do you think are the biggest misconceptions about working in the Tech sector as a woman today?
Tina: The biggest misconception is that in 2020 the tech sector is diverse enough and we don’t need to focus on it anymore. Teams made of up diverse members i.e. different genders, races, cultures, backgrounds, etc foster the best environment for creativity. By looking at the same issue from different perspectives, creates the best possible situation to solve a problem.
Heath: What influences your leadership style and what values are important to you?
Tina: My team influences my leadership style. You can’t manage everyone the same way, as not everyone needs the same type of guidance or structure. Above all, I value passion and the desire to do a good job as essential traits for our new hires. Employees may not have had experience or education, but if they have the desire to do good work, then that attribute will make them an essential member of the team.
Heath: How important is it to be exposed to all areas of the business in order to be an effective leader within your business?
Tina: It’s really important to be exposed and involved in all aspects of the business which then helps inform your decisions, especially in a small business. If you understand other functional areas such as finance and operations, it allows you to make better decision on the direction of the business.
Wahida Mohamed: Empowering Women And Championing Islamic Financing In Sub Saharan Africa
Wahida Mohamed is the founder of Islamic FinTech Hub and a retail banker with over 10 years’ experience in conventional International trade finance and SME Relationship Management. She has also worked for a Democratic Governance Programme implemented for 3 years immediately post the promulgation of Kenya’s 2010 Constitution. She has been of service to Somaliland by working for a Mott Macdonald managed – Somaliland Development Fund Secretariat that provided and managed an external development budget aligned to the country’s 5 year National Development Plan.
In order to make better use of her Monitoring and Evaluation qualifications Wahida founded One OAK Consultants that was selected out of 20,000 applicants to be part of the inaugural cohort of The Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme. One OAK Consultants uses Randomised Controlled Trials. It also makes a comparison of objective and subjective indicators to determine baseline and assess progress as well as impact of development programming interventions. One OAK Consultant she begun exploring the use of Immersive Virtual Reality as a reporting and advocacy tool.
Wahida’s passion for Islamic Finance Research has enabled her to participate in various studies in Sub Saharan Africa commissioned by The Islamic Research Training Institute – the research arm of The Islamic Development Bank, headquartered in Saudi Arabia. Her forte is Islamic financial inclusion, capability and consumer protection studies. She has also led a team that developed a Working Paper entitled Islamic Banking and Economic Infrastructure Development -Kenya’s prospects for The Kenya Bankers Association – Centre for Research on Financial Markets and Policy.
Her keen interest in addressing systemic barriers and other challenges that prevent women and girls from accessing and using financial services therefore impacting negatively on their economic empowerment is one of the drivers for the establishment of her latest venture– The Islamic Fintech Hub for Sub Saharan Africa (IsFHSSA). The other reason being winning a PhD Scholarship Award for ICT for Development.
IsFHSSA targets start-ups from ideation stage with a gender focus lens. Its first cohort comprises of an agribusiness with a halal certification feature that it is looking forward to developing in collaboration with Indonesian Halal Certification experts -PT. Ammacue Ihalals Ummatin. In this way the start-up will open up the Asian and other Islamic Consumer markets for its Sub Saharan Africa domiciled suppliers. This start-up has been selected for 12 months incubation, capacity building and financing by The Kenya Climate Innovation Centre (KCIC) – an initiative supported by the World Bank’s infoDev and is the first in a global network of CICs launched by infoDev’s Climate Technology Program (CTP).KCIC is funded by the United Kingdom’s UKaid and the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Another startup is a Takaful solution provider that leverages on blockchain and has just completed participation in round two of the on-going 2020 Corda Challenge. This startup is looking forward to working with Takaful Outsource of Netherlands to develop its sharia compliant products.
IsFHSSA is also host to an e-learning platform that will make use of TAIF Digital Institute – an Islamic Finance & Technology company with offices in UAE & Canada. TAIF is committed to support IsFHSSA initiative to deliver world-class Digital Learning Experience across Kenya & region. TAIF is seeking to connect students and teachers from different schools across Sub Saharan Africa.
Other start-ups in IsFHSSA first cohort are a wholly mobile sharia complaint microfinance targeting the Gambian Market; an app targeting sports persons and teams with the aim of building sports careers as well as refurbishing/commercialisation of grass root sports facilities; a sharia compliant mobile lending platform; institutionalization of Zakat vide a network of masjids; automation of sharia advisory services using Machine Learning and sharia complaint crowd funding platform for real estate and specialized agricultural projects development.IsFHSSA is part of the Fintech Galaxy UAE Ecosystem.
Clearly IsFHSSA less than six months’ trajectory is steep and promises to offer interesting businesses and discourse around Islamic Fintech from Sub Saharan Africa.
Wahida was born and raised in Mombasa, Kenya. She holds a Masters in Monitoring and Evaluation from Maseno University, a BSc. Statistics from Egerton University, Post Graduate Certificate in Business Administration from the University of Manchester and Diploma in Financial Services Management from the Institute of Financial Services UK.
Serah Odende, co-founder of African Harvesters Talks Entrepreneurship and Her Initiative Ag4SDGs
Serah Odende is co-Founder and CEO of African Harvesters, an AgriMedia (marketing, advocacy and training) startup based in Lagos, Nigeria. She has years of experience working directly with critical stakeholders in the agricultural ecosystem focusing on Agriculture and SDGs, policy advocacy, research, training and community development. In this interview with Alaba Ayinuola of Business Africa Online, she talks about her entrepreneurship journey and initiative Ag4SDGs, and more. Excerpts.
Alaba: Kindly tell us about African Harvesters and the gap it’s filling?
Serah: African Harvesters is an agribusiness hub for agricultural stakeholders across the African agribusiness value chains (farm to table). We fill the information gap in the industry, we agvocate youth engagement and investment in Agriculture, we also agvocate for women inclusion in Agribusiness.
Alaba: What sparked the interest?
Serah: Wow! I would say unemployment and passion for food security. I was a graduate out of the university searching for a job and I got an opportunity to work with an agribusiness association, that’s where was my interest in Agriculture rose.
Alaba: Could you share some of your challenges and how you’re navigating them?
Serah: Challenges are milestones to be crushed! As an organization, our major challenge is getting quality human resource as our volunteers. We resolved the challenge by giving incentives to our volunteers across Africa.
Alaba: How does Agriculture interact with SDG goals?
Serah: The main SDG that is Agriculture inclined is the SDG2 which is zero hunger. Zero hunger basically means no hunger. For this SDG to be achieved by 2030, this means that there would be no hunger as the case may be. For this to be achieved climate smart agriculture needs to be upheld which is SDG 14, gender equality and women inclusion in agricultural decisions which is SDG 10 and 5 respectively.
Aquaculture needs to be explored to attain food sufficiency which is SDG 14. SDG 15 interacts with Agriculture in the aspect of land degradation, biodiversity, afforestation etc.
Alaba: The Covid-19 pandemic has negative impact on the Agricultural value chain. What solutions will you proffer?
Serah: There should be synergy between every Agriculture stakeholders across the value chain. The Covid-19 pandemic has shown the significance of synergy; government, developmental partners and private sectors needs to work together to achieve zero hunger by 2030.
Alaba: Are we post Covid-19 ready and what are the prospects to look out for?
Serah: Yes we are post COVID-19 ready. As an organisation, African Harvesters has always embraced digital solutions to our operations as we are in strategic countries across Africa, the pandemic has made us to re engineer our mode of operations.
Alaba: What support do you expect from the government?
Serah: The pandemic has added to the responsibility of the government to do better. I expect the government to create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive. Multiple taxations is not the solution.
Alaba: Could you tell us more about your initiative, Agriculture for SDGs (Ag4SDGs) and it’s impact?
Serah: Agriculture for SDGs (Ag4SDGs) is our sustainability initiative at African Harvesters, we enlighten the public on the impact of Agriculture in solving the Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs). We hold online sessions to share more light on the relationship Agriculture has with the SDGs. We also teach kids on sustainability, food waste, hand washing, recycling, water management among other things. We plan to expand our reach on the Ag4SDGs initiative to schools and other African countries outside Nigeria.
Alaba: What’s the future for African Harvesters?
Serah: We envision being the go to resource platform for opportunities, agribusiness happenings across Africa. We also want to open up frontiers for funding opportunities for the platform- African Harvesters.
Alaba: How are you encouraging young female entrepreneurs into the agribusiness ecosystem?
Serah: We at African Harvesters support women inclusion in Agriculture which is SDG 5 and SDG 10. We uphold gender equality, as a female founded startup we include women in all our opportunities with our developmental partners and negotiate equal benefits for our male and female beneficiaries.
B I O G R A P H Y
Serah Odende is an outstanding sustainability development advocate with experience in SDGs 2 and 12. She is the co-Founder and CEO of African Harvesters, an AgriMedia, marketing and advocacy startup based in Lagos, Nigeria. Serah is also a reputable digital transformation consultant with experience in training, digital marketing, social media, email automation and customer experience.
Serah Odende helps organisations position their brands on traditional and digital media.
Chidi Nwaogu: Multi Award-Winning Entrepreneur Launches Global Fellowship Program for Aspiring And Early-Stage Entrepreneurs
Chidi Nwaogu, Founder Publiseer (Source: Chidi Nwaogu).
On the journey to impact over 10,000 professionals before year-end, Nigerian serial tech entrepreneur and software developer, Chidi Nwaogu, launches a global fellowship program for those passionate about solving some of the world’s most pressing problems through innovation. Savvy Fellowship is built for those who want to build their own impact-driven business but don’t know how to, or for those who own an early-stage business and want to grow and scale their impact into new markets or verticals. It is a 12 weeks e-learning, assessment, and mentorship program, where individuals learn everything from ideation to venture-scaling. After going through the 12-week program, Fellows receive a Certificate of Completion to proudly share with their professional network.
“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many have lost their jobs and are now living in an uncertain world. I have decided to start the Savvy Fellowship, to equip passionate individuals with the necessary knowledge and skill they need to start their own impact-driven business and succeed as entrepreneurs,” says Chidi Nwaogu, co-founder at Savvy, multi-award-winning serial entrepreneur, and author of the ‘Dear Entrepreneur’ book series. “It’s no news that every day, I love sharing with others what I’ve learned from my experience as an entrepreneur, and Savvy is just an extension of that personal journey of sharing for me.
Savvy is a 12-week-long virtual fellowship program that runs throughout the year. Some of the things Savvy Fellows learn include fundraising for their business, building the right team to execute their business strategies, building buzz around their product or service, achieving product-market fit, scaling into new markets and verticals, and building customer loyalty and retention.”
Savvy Fellowship kicks off with a rigorous 12-weeks e-learning experience. Savvy Fellows get to learn how to start, build, and scale an impact venture. Using visual presentations, they get to answer all the relevant questions they need to kickstart their impact venture, gain early traction, achieve product-market fit, and scale into newer markets. Some of the things they learn during the program are ‘understanding their customer’, ‘building a product or service that effectively solves their key challenges’, and ‘effectively positioning their solution in the market.’ Savvy is for every impact entrepreneur, no matter what stage their venture is.
During the 12 weeks of learning, unlearning, and relearning, Fellows can test their understanding by taking weekly multiple-choice quizzes. Fellows use the weekly assessments to identify their strengths and weaknesses and work on improving their areas of weaknesses. While learning, Fellows are offered mentorship as well, from entrepreneurs who have built post-revenue businesses in diverse sectors, which is a great way to have a better understanding of their industry. The Savvy mentorship team includes nearly 60 changemakers from 20 countries, with a combined experience of over 250 years. Savvy also runs a peer-to-peer mentorship program that helps Fellows learn from each other, as they ask questions, and have other Fellows help answer them.
Savvy Fellowship launched on August 4, 2020, with its call for application. So far, nearly 10,000 applications from 71 countries have been received for the Savvy Fellowship program, and 1,222 Savvy Fellows (~10%) from 64 countries around the world, has been selected. The program intends to select 2,000 Fellows, so call for application is still open. There is no cohort, no application deadline, and no ethnic restriction, so you can apply today. Savvy accepts new Fellows between the ages of 18 to 40. It’s a rolling Fellowship program, so new applications are accepted, every day, year-round.
Interested individuals can apply to the Fellowship program from https://savvyfellows.com/apply/
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