The Pavilion Podcast
The Pavilion Podcast

Episode · 6 months ago

Ep 153: Tech in Africa w/ Munya Chiura

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Ep 153: Tech in Africa w/ Munya Chiura

Hello everyone and welcome back to the Pavilion podcast. I'm your host brand of art and you're listening to Is this a good time the show where I put Pavilion members on the hot seat for 15 minutes and we hear their incredible stories joe's are out Tuesdays and thursday. So please hit subscribe and you will not miss hearing from our experts and today's episode is incredibly special. We got muna kira, he is the head of Growth for flutter wave in Africa and we talk about everything in Africa that's going on from a tech perspective. Man, I wish we said we actually covered everything but just some of the subject but incredible just to hear from somebody who's on the ground there and is part of the startup community. Um, I certainly learned a lot and I'm excited to follow him as as things grow. So, this month sponsor is Sandoz. So Sandoz. So the leading sending platform is the most effective way for revenue generating teams to stand out with new ways to engage at strategic points throughout the customer journey. By connecting digital and physical strategies. Companies can engage, acquire and retain customers easier than ever before. All right into this episode 73 is this a good time? All right, this is amazing. We're here with Moon Akira. He is one of the heads of Growth for flutter wave in Africa. I think you are the first guests we've had on the program that lives in Africa. So welcome man, this is gonna be fun. Fantastic Brandon, appreciate that. I am making the Pavilion World Book of Records for the first Pavilion, uh what class in Africa, So happy to be on on here. Thank you. Hit a couple of continents but not Africa yet man, there is so much to cover here, so let's dive right in all me, No filler, Tell us, tell us about your current role, what do you know, what are you doing for Flood aware and we're sorry and gosh man, tell us about the journey because I know you did undergrad in the US and so forth. I just want to hear it. So yes, so I'm the head of growth for the rest of Africa Flood Wave so far...

...the wave is a Africa fintech company, we are a startup were five years old, really have been growing phenomenally over the past five years and our use case and why we exist is really solving the complex challenges for businesses trying to do business across Africa, there is a highly fragmented ecosystem and what we've done over the past five years has built a robust global payments infrastructure to support over 390,000 businesses across the world. So my role is to support our growth and I'll continue to accelerate growth across across Africa. Right? And and what I mean from a payments perspective, what does this actually mean? Is this like square, is this like, is this like b two B payments. Yeah, that's a very good question. So some of our customers today include facebook Microsoft, you know, netflix. When you think about these global enterprise businesses as they scale across the world payments becomes a real bottlenecks. So think about you trying to navigate your 365 license or your your Xbox license and you're sitting in in in Nigeria. What global enterprise businesses, especially as businesses have realized is that the ability to offer local and familiar payment options is huge. I should be able to whip up my wallet, my app and just make a payment and and that's for us been, you know, amazing in terms of being able to support global businesses at the same time, we also have a lot of African businesses that are looking to scale whether you're in South Africa or Nigeria and you're looking across the continent, we're providing those, those payment rails for those businesses to be able to support not just local transactions, but international transactions. Yeah, look, I I mean this actually it rings true to me, my businesses in digital ordering for restaurants, we take payments of course in the US we had to extend to different payment providers. And when we went to Canada and I could not even imagine trying to corral uh the necessary business development relationships for all the different...

...countries within Africa. So essentially you become a one stop shop perhaps to connect to a bunch of these uh these networks if I wanted to launch my business in Africa? Absolutely brand. And when you look at africa, it's 54 countries right there. So it's it's a very complex, a bit amazing ecosystem. So we also select to set for the way we like to make Africa feel like a country, it's a very complex ecosystem. And what we are there to do is really demystify uh the idea of doing business across Africa through through our our infrastructure. And how did you like give me the journey because I know that I think you did undergrad in the US, is that right? Yes. No. Absolutely. So it was born and raised in Zimbabwe and and really I was fortunate to have an opportunity to do my undergrad at Lehigh University in pennsylvania. So uh many of um us Africans who've gotten an opportunity to to really broaden horizons. We finished high school and make some determinations of where we want to go and and pursue education where there's the U. S. Or Australia or the UK. So um there is quite an outflow of of students from Africa who want to sharpen their skills. And so for me, I was fortunate to to do my undergrad at Lehigh University, so that was an amazing four years. And and uh so that began my journey in terms of of just my exposure to to to the U. S. On a more sort of lighter note is that I grew up watching coming to America Eddie Murphy and we always had this vision of the U. S. And what the U. S. Was like. And so yes, it was a dream come true for a lot of us uh who are sitting there in, in Africa saying, you know, I want to broaden my horizons for for me that that was a great opportunity to to get to the U. S. And and do my undergrad there and and then, and then tell me about like the roles that you took right out of school, did you move back to Africa and work right away or were you working around in the U. S. First and then realized you could bridge this by going back to africa. Yeah, very good question. And you know, as an...

...international student who graduates from university, it's a really challenging environment and back then where it was very hard to actually find a job right, even though you might have had the skill sets, um you were required to get a what you call a Visa, right? And snatch one B Visa, which is basically the ability to work in the US very challenging. And I was fortunate because I had amazing undergraduate um internships, I work for the World Bank, I worked with a chinese company in Pittsburgh, so I had a pretty good credential in terms of opportunities, right? But then if I'm walking in and someone says, hey listen, I want to hire today and you say, well it means you've got to sponsor me, it's a very complex ecosystem. So for me, I, I actually got on a plane and came back to Africa, then got a job in South Africa, working for in corporate finance. And then my journey became very interesting when we talk about sort of luck is that, you know, my, my father happened to be the rotary meeting where there was a gentleman, his name is bob clay from Louisville Kentucky who came to visit Zimbabwe and they started talking and my father was like, hey, you know, uh, I got this young lad who, who's looking for for opportunities back in the U. S. And couldn't find a job and and that actually became the beginning of my journey back to the U. S. So I, I credit bob griffin and the rotary international and you look at some of the exchanges between different continents and different clubs that got me to the U. S. For my first, a job in Nashville actually, which is with a company called com com data. So yeah, that, that got me back to the U. S. I love it. You know, you're just rolling with the questions right into the luck part. Um, and then, uh, and then of course, you know, you then obviously made a decision to come back um, I think first Zimbabwe and maybe even kenya, then then down to South Africa, look, give us a general sense of the tech scene right now in Africa, it seems like there's so much opportunity, it's something that on a, on a 30,000 ft level, whether that's like, you know, the smart podcasts that we listen to emerging market, right? Like a place where a lot of startup investment is...

...starting to move to at least Vcs are starting to pay attention to just give us a few minutes. I'm like, what's going on? Yeah, sure, sure. So Brandon, for me, it would be important just to give you some point of reference of why this was important. So I call it my epiphany. So back 10 years ago I had made a conscious decision, it was coupled by one meeting my wife and she said, listen, she wouldn't marry me if I didn't come back to Africa. But secondly, it was really around this idea that I was seeing and putting together these decks on what the mobile growth was in Africa. And I sat there I said to myself, you know, you're as much as the U. S. Is an amazing place, you need to be on the continent, you need to be in Africa. And so the reason why I prefaced that is this has been a 10 year journey, right? If you look at where we are now and the interest in Africa, we're seeing amazing raises flood away from my work for closed a series C funding in March, $170 million that would be unimaginable 10 years ago. So we're seeing this accelerated amazing growth within Africa because it is a continent that has got amazing upside. So just for context, right, we have about 495 million people who are using some form of mobile money and mobile money may not mean anything to people who are outside of Africa, but basically we've revolutionized the way that you make payments and so that's just the context of why Africa is important and that's been and allowed it for the acceleration of VC money coming in, of investments being made in the continent. Because there's a massive opportunity, if you look at from a statistical perspective, when you look at the continent, They will be 2.5 billion people in Africa in 2015. So if you're sitting there and you're not part of that ecosystem uh you know, there's something I think really challenging there and one should be looking at it. So for me, that's, that's exciting. This is the reason why it's the beginning of of just an amazing opportunity when you look at the upside and the growth opportunities that exist on the continent and in general, I mean, in almost every industry, there's an opportunity to...

...create basically a web to web three first like cloud based industry, right? I mean, you know, you're talking about mobile payments, there's no wallets, there's no exchange of currency, there is, there is there is the ability to use kind of a mobile wallet in all vendors right? Like this is this is somewhat of these, you know, and I'm speaking a little bit out of my comfort zone on this but um it's somewhat uh antidote to anecdotally from others telling me this is the success of china is the ability of we pay right like of the ability for even the smallest roadside vendors to be able to take a mobile payment um you know, has um just the sense of e commerce and across the entire country maybe throughout Asia and it seems like that's kind of the promise of what you're talking about here in Africa as well. Absolutely. Brandon and I think what's interesting about africa for us and actually what's more exciting is that, you know, china is one currency, right? So beyond when you look at Africa we've got 54 countries. So our job is flooded wave is really to make that seamless process. Whether you are sitting in South Africa using South African Rand or you're not in Nigeria using Naira or Tanzania. Tanzania shillings. It's really making that ecosystem interoperable. So that yes, you as as a business can easily transact across the continent. So it is certainly um and we are compared as africa on in terms of where china was but I think we've got a lot more exciting opportunities because of the nuances and the complexity of the different currencies across across africa but absolutely we were, you know, I you know, I live in Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe today, I don't remember the last time I actually saw a banknote, we've always been a mobile first environment, people leveraging mobile money and making mobile transactions for everything from buying air time to go into restaurants and that's the reality of the day in the ecosystem we...

...live in. That's incredible. And I'm going to ask the dumb, the dumb question here, but why not? Does Cryptocurrency play into this at all? Yes. Do you see, do you see a place where Cryptocurrency is part of the way to unite 54 different currencies? That's a very good question. I think it's important to keep in mind that in any environments where you have a either lack of trust or you have a very challenging fx liquidity environment, you will see Cryptocurrency thrive right? And we've seen this across Africa. In fact, Africa is probably the third largest Cryptocurrency market in the world when we talk about uh you know transactions and the reason for that is is that people want to be able to have the ability to transact and and make it easy across the world. So what we are seeing interesting enough is that we're seeing a bridge between Cryptocurrency and digital currency. So for example, we've had markets like South Africa and Nigeria that have made a strong intentions about rolling out digital currencies. Uh so yes, we are seeing that as being a key and and core part of of the financial digital ecosystem. It just feels like the use case is so strong in in this particular set up, all those different currencies so forth. I'm excited to see what comes. Well look let's let's let's continue down the line on some of these other questions. I feel like I can sit here and just maybe we'll have you back quarterly to give us the report on what's going on in the whole continent. You're going to be our correspondents for everything going on in texas. Uh are you, are you hiring for any roles? Yeah, so you know, flood wave isn't growing so quickly, I mean just for context is you know, I I'm I'm joined in january. Um I mean we were up to 500 people so the company continues to grow significantly. We're hiring across seven african markets were hiring in the U. S. Top of mind for me is is markets like South Africa, always looking for talent. So yes, it's an amazing time in terms of the of those those roles, especially from a sort of business development and growth...

...perspective, always looking for for great people love it, love it. Well, I mean I hope those that are interested in saying, hey maybe I want to make a change and go live somewhere else or something, you know reach out. I think it'll be interesting to to see if this touches some people and then of course do you have any shout outs to get people that we should be following that are not just the old run of the mill, like who's interesting to learn about and keep keep track of kind of what's going on in the world of tech within africa. Absolutely. So, so I, I I will give a shout out to two G B, who's our Ceo and founder a flood wave and all the 495 waivers across the world that are doing amazing, amazing work. So shout out to them. And I think for me, another big shout out is all of the great entrepreneurs, whether you've made that big decision of moving from your home country and we've seen this across the world, amazing companies that are looking at, at building themselves as entrepreneurs and, and, and, and of of note for me as a, as a young man, 21 years old from Senegal who was a factory worker um in Italy, his his name is, is cabbie Lane. He's got 100 and 120 million Tiktok followers. Um, so he, he handed, he landed in in ITaly and, and just started, you know, to do some amazing work around uh, you know, comedy and and entertaining and he's done phenomenally well and I think they're all these success stories of people who are in Korea that would not have been imaginable 10 years ago, you think about where Tiktok is now and, and, and what you can do around the creative economy. So what excites me is and shot us of all those people who might have made risky decisions of Korea's and never imagined existed and and they've made have made that jump. And so I think for me that that's a commendable opportunity when when people are doing that really in african across the world love that. That I think I've actually seen his his stuff where he, where he uh he gives a very interesting disapproving face to a lot of stuff. I think while it's going on behind him...

...like what the heck is going on here? What are these people doing? Right? Like I've seen this, it's hysterical. Yeah, no, absolutely cool. And then and then look go anywhere you want with this, but I always ask for a restaurant recommendation uh what, where should we go eat? So this is another interesting story for me. So when I, when I still lived in the US, I traveled quite a bit, I fell in love with P. F. Chang's Chilean sea bass. Okay, so what I, what I normally did wherever I was traveling across the US, I would go and order a Chilean sea bass and I was looking for the consistency and I would always tell the chef and pull the chef out and say listen you're Chilean sea bass is amazing. But about three years ago I went to bahrain and I was in bahrain and I happened to come across a P. F. Chang's and indeed I walked and then you wouldn't guess what I ordered. Yes, I ordered a Chilean sea bass and two to my love and pleasure. It was as consistent as an amazing, but part of it is I hadn't had a couple of years but that's that's my restaurant stories that you know, you stick to something you love and I hope that wherever you go it's it's consistent and P. F. Chang's has been one of those, I love it. That's got to be the most popular perhaps dish that has ever been mentioned on the, on the show, probably selling million of them millions of them chang's and uh and so we'll have to say the specific recommendation is we got to go to bahrain and go to that P. F. Chang's but I must say that you know, since I am from Africa, you know I'm from Zimbabwe, we have an amazing restaurant called called the boma restaurant which is in victoria Falls and I encourage anyone who's coming to Zimbabwe, visit to Victoria Falls amazing place and and and and go to the boma, you'll get an exquisite, you know...

...menu there that is well worth the money and time now now we're getting the secret, this is a good stuff man awesome, so cool to chat. I mean we've got so much more, we can cover but we're going to cut a choice so we can leave a little meat on the bone. Have you on again? Thank you so much for staying up late and excited to just keep in touch man, Fantastic brand, appreciate that and and shout out to pavilion. It's been an amazing group, especially for me just working with different teams across across the world. So happy to be part of Pavilions. Love it man. Love it. Thanks so much. You see something All right, that's our show. Thank you so much for listening. If you love the show, rate and review in the Apple podcast, Spotify app, send it to friends and and smash that subscribe button reminder. This episode was brought to you by Sandoz. So they deliver modern direct mail, personalized gifts and other physical impressions that make your outreach more personally. I had so much fun today was such a killer episode. Hope you appreciated it and get out there and pressure numbers. If you see something, say something.

In-Stream Audio Search

NEW

Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (229)