Africa’s business landscape presents unique opportunities and challenges for entrepreneurs, employees, and industry leaders.
In this editorial roundup, we share summarised perspectives of five experts from various fields who share their unique takes on marketing strategies, career growth, data protection, market expansion, and financial inclusion.
Meet Chidinma Onukwue: Better Communication Spurs Growth
“The best product managers are the ones who can build relationships with engineers and understand how they think. They are also the ones who are willing to learn and are open to feedback.”
Chimdinma Onwukwe, a product manager at CAPSA Technology, discussed her role in Sub-Saharan Africa and emphasized the significance of customer-centricity and effective communication.
Coming from a non-technical background, Chimdinma shared her personal journey transitioning into product management and provided advice for aspiring product managers. She highlights the transferability of skills, emphasizing storytelling, strong communication and workflow management skills.
Chimdinma’s wisdom sheds light on the challenges and opportunities within African product management, offering invaluable guidance for professionals in the field.
Meet Olatokunbo Ogunlade: Bet on Yourself
Olatokunbo Ogunlade, a self-taught Systems Engineer and founder of Coding Mums, shared her journey from learning Python while pregnant to becoming a successful engineer, highlighting the significance of courage, self-belief, and leveraging support from others.
Olatokunbo’s story showcases the importance of seizing opportunities and breaking self-imposed limitations. She also emphasised the need for secure and scalable application development while promoting digital identity advancements in Africa. As a mentor, Olatokunbo encourages others to give themselves permission to grow and pursue their goals.
“‘Everything is figure-out-able. I heard that from Ali Abdaal and embraced it like my life depended on it. People won’t always be as optimistic as you are. They may see you as an obstacle or even question your audacity. But it’s what you say to yourself and about yourself that matters. You have the final word.”
Meet Bade Adesemowo: Identity is the Key to Financial Growth
Bade Adesemowo, CTO, Co-founder of Social Lender (now Social Rep), and a prominent figure in the African tech industry, believes technology should be seen as a tool rather than an end.
In his interview, Bade discussed the significance of trust and verified identities in enabling financial inclusion and fostering financial growth in Africa. By leveraging people’s networks, communities, and engagements, Social Lender creates a score that can be used for various purposes, including Know Your Customer (KYC) processes, HR validation, and establishing user identities across industries.
Bade envisions an Africa where more collaboration and data sharing in the digital identity industry is used to serve offline markets effectively.
“Technology is just a tool and not the end in itself. You don’t want to use a sledgehammer to kill a fly, so you want to adopt the best practices around security, maintenance, user experience, and reliability. That’s what I do. I also have a passion for tech, as I’d still do what I do even if I wasn’t paid for it. This is my secret to building successful products.”
Meet Yemisi Alabi and Yarmi Ashama
Yemisi Alabi and Yarmi Ashama, Product Managers at financial giants Interswitch and Cowrywise, respectively, shared their expertise in building and scaling products for the African market.
Yemisi emphasized the importance of thorough research and leveraging personal networks to create a solid foundation for product development. She also highlighted the need to discard personal perceptions and embrace the truth revealed through research.
Yarmi, on the other hand, highlighted the significance of starting with minimal implementation and iterating based on customer feedback. Their advice underscores the importance of customer understanding, continuous improvement, and regulatory compliance for successful product management in Africa. By applying these insights, entrepreneurs and product managers can navigate the unique challenges and opportunities of the African market more effectively.
“So the question is, what’s the bare minimum you can implement without being at risk with regulations and compliance? And would it also still give your customers a sense of security? You start with this, get a few customers, and then learn from it.”
Finally, Meet Ssuna Ronald
Ssuna Ronald, a seasoned marketer from Uganda, shared valuable insights on the power of mission-driven marketing to spur financial growth in Africa and its transformative effects on people’s lives. With a diverse background encompassing social media, broadcast media, and content creation, Ronald highlighted the importance of understanding niche audiences and their needs.
He underscores the crucial role of compliance teams and legal safeguards in protecting user data, particularly in less integrated markets. Ronald’s approach to expanding into new markets involves comprehensive market research, surveys, and continuous customer engagement.
He also encouraged marketers to adopt a global mindset, advising them to showcase their best work regardless of external recognition. Regarding financial inclusion in Africa, Ronald emphasized the need to extend fintech products beyond urban centres and stressed the value of collaboration between companies and governments. He concluded by urging businesses to find common ground, asserting that governments are not adversaries but potential partners.
“People have to find something good about your product to talk about. A lousy bug, like your customer support not being up to its game, will make customers lose trust. When you build a product whose technology and operations are on point, it will build the customer’s trust without any discounts or free offers.”
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