The Pavilion Podcast
The Pavilion Podcast

Episode · 2 months ago

Ep 153: Tech in Africa w/ Munya Chiura

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Ep 153: Tech in Africa w/ Munya Chiura

Hello everyone and welcome back to thePavilion podcast. I'm your host brand of art and you're listening to Is thisa good time the show where I put Pavilion members on the hot seat for 15minutes and we hear their incredible stories joe's are out Tuesdays andthursday. So please hit subscribe and you will not miss hearing from ourexperts 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 abouteverything in Africa that's going on from a tech perspective. Man, I wish wesaid we actually covered everything but just some of the subject but incrediblejust to hear from somebody who's on the ground there and is part of the startupcommunity. Um, I certainly learned a lot and I'm excited to follow him as asthings grow. So, this month sponsor is Sandoz. So Sandoz. So the leadingsending platform is the most effective way for revenue generating teams tostand out with new ways to engage at strategic points throughout thecustomer journey. By connecting digital and physical strategies. Companies canengage, acquire and retain customers easier than ever before. All right intothis episode 73 is this a good time? All right, this is amazing. We're herewith Moon Akira. He is one of the heads of Growth for flutter wave in Africa. Ithink 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. Iam making the Pavilion World Book of Records for the first Pavilion, uh whatclass in Africa, So happy to be on on here. Thank you. Hit a couple ofcontinents but not Africa yet man, there is so much to cover here, solet's dive right in all me, No filler, Tell us, tell us about your currentrole, what do you know, what are you doing for Flood aware and we're sorryand gosh man, tell us about the journey because I know you did undergrad in theUS and so forth. I just want to hear it. So yes, so I'm the head of growth forthe 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 phenomenallyover the past five years and our use case and why we exist is really solvingthe complex challenges for businesses trying to do business across Africa,there is a highly fragmented ecosystem and what we've done over the past fiveyears has built a robust global payments infrastructure to support over390,000 businesses across the world. So my role is to support our growth andI'll continue to accelerate growth across across Africa. Right? And andwhat I mean from a payments perspective, what does this actually mean? Is thislike square, is this like, is this like b two B payments. Yeah, that's a verygood question. So some of our customers today include facebook Microsoft, youknow, netflix. When you think about these global enterprise businesses asthey scale across the world payments becomes a real bottlenecks. So thinkabout you trying to navigate your 365 license or your your Xbox license andyou're sitting in in in Nigeria. What global enterprise businesses,especially as businesses have realized is that the ability to offer local andfamiliar payment options is huge. I should be able to whip up my wallet, myapp and just make a payment and and that's for us been, you know, amazingin terms of being able to support global businesses at the same time, wealso have a lot of African businesses that are looking to scale whetheryou'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 ableto support not just local transactions, but international transactions. Yeah,look, I I mean this actually it rings true to me, my businesses in digitalordering for restaurants, we take payments of course in the US we had toextend to different payment providers. And when we went to Canada and I couldnot even imagine trying to corral uh the necessary business developmentrelationships for all the different...

...countries within Africa. So essentiallyyou become a one stop shop perhaps to connect to a bunch of these uh thesenetworks 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 avery complex, a bit amazing ecosystem. So we also select to set for the way welike to make Africa feel like a country, it's a very complex ecosystem. And whatwe are there to do is really demystify uh the idea of doing business acrossAfrica through through our our infrastructure. And how did you likegive me the journey because I know that I think you did undergrad in the US, isthat right? Yes. No. Absolutely. So it was born and raised in Zimbabwe and andreally I was fortunate to have an opportunity to do my undergrad atLehigh University in pennsylvania. So uh many of um us Africans who've gottenan opportunity to to really broaden horizons. We finished high school andmake some determinations of where we want to go and and pursue educationwhere there's the U. S. Or Australia or the UK. So um there is quite an outflowof of students from Africa who want to sharpen their skills. And so for me, Iwas fortunate to to do my undergrad at Lehigh University, so that was anamazing four years. And and uh so that began my journey in terms of of just myexposure to to to the U. S. On a more sort of lighter note is that I grew upwatching 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 lotof us uh who are sitting there in, in Africa saying, you know, I want tobroaden my horizons for for me that that was a great opportunity to to getto the U. S. And and do my undergrad there and and then, and then tell meabout like the roles that you took right out of school, did you move backto Africa and work right away or were you working around in the U. S. Firstand then realized you could bridge this by going back to africa. Yeah, verygood question. And you know, as an...

...international student who graduatesfrom university, it's a really challenging environment and back thenwhere it was very hard to actually find a job right, even though you might havehad 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 USvery challenging. And I was fortunate because I had amazing undergraduate uminternships, I work for the World Bank, I worked with a chinese company inPittsburgh, 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 tohire today and you say, well it means you've got to sponsor me, it's a verycomplex ecosystem. So for me, I, I actually got on a plane and came backto Africa, then got a job in South Africa, working for in corporatefinance. And then my journey became very interesting when we talk aboutsort of luck is that, you know, my, my father happened to be the rotarymeeting where there was a gentleman, his name is bob clay from LouisvilleKentucky who came to visit Zimbabwe and they started talking and my father waslike, hey, you know, uh, I got this young lad who, who's looking for foropportunities back in the U. S. And couldn't find a job and and thatactually became the beginning of my journey back to the U. S. So I, Icredit bob griffin and the rotary international and you look at some ofthe exchanges between different continents and different clubs that gotme to the U. S. For my first, a job in Nashville actually, which is with acompany called com com data. So yeah, that, that got me back to the U. S. Ilove it. You know, you're just rolling with the questions right into the luckpart. Um, and then, uh, and then of course, you know, you then obviouslymade a decision to come back um, I think first Zimbabwe and maybe evenkenya, then then down to South Africa, look, give us a general sense of thetech 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 placewhere a lot of startup investment is...

...starting to move to at least Vcs arestarting to pay attention to just give us a few minutes. I'm like, what'sgoing on? Yeah, sure, sure. So Brandon, for me, it would be important just togive you some point of reference of why this was important. So I call it myepiphany. So back 10 years ago I had made a conscious decision, it wascoupled by one meeting my wife and she said, listen, she wouldn't marry me ifI didn't come back to Africa. But secondly, it was really around thisidea that I was seeing and putting together these decks on what the mobilegrowth was in Africa. And I sat there I said to myself, you know, you're asmuch as the U. S. Is an amazing place, you need to be on the continent, youneed to be in Africa. And so the reason why I prefaced that is this has been a10 year journey, right? If you look at where we are now and the interest inAfrica, we're seeing amazing raises flood away from my work for closed aseries C funding in March, $170 million that would be unimaginable 10 years ago.So we're seeing this accelerated amazing growth within Africa because itis a continent that has got amazing upside. So just for context, right, wehave about 495 million people who are using some form of mobile money andmobile money may not mean anything to people who are outside of Africa, butbasically we've revolutionized the way that you make payments and so that'sjust the context of why Africa is important and that's been and allowedit for the acceleration of VC money coming in, of investments being made inthe continent. Because there's a massive opportunity, if you look atfrom a statistical perspective, when you look at the continent, They will be2.5 billion people in Africa in 2015. So if you're sitting there and you'renot part of that ecosystem uh you know, there's something I think reallychallenging 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 anamazing opportunity when you look at the upside and the growth opportunitiesthat exist on the continent and in general, I mean, in almost everyindustry, there's an opportunity to...

...create basically a web to web threefirst like cloud based industry, right? I mean, you know, you're talking aboutmobile payments, there's no wallets, there's no exchange of currency, thereis, there is there is the ability to use kind of a mobile wallet in allvendors right? Like this is this is somewhat of these, you know, and I'mspeaking a little bit out of my comfort zone on this but um it's somewhat uhantidote to anecdotally from others telling me this is the success of chinais the ability of we pay right like of the ability for even the smallestroadside vendors to be able to take a mobile payment um you know, has um just the sense of e commerce andacross the entire country maybe throughout Asia and it seems likethat's kind of the promise of what you're talking about here in Africa aswell. Absolutely. Brandon and I think what's interesting about africa for usand 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 ourjob is flooded wave is really to make that seamless process. Whether you aresitting in South Africa using South African Rand or you're not in Nigeriausing Naira or Tanzania. Tanzania shillings. It's really making thatecosystem interoperable. So that yes, you as as a business can easilytransact across the continent. So it is certainly um and we are compared asafrica on in terms of where china was but I think we've got a lot moreexciting opportunities because of the nuances and the complexity of thedifferent currencies across across africa but absolutely we were, you know,I you know, I live in Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe today, I don't remember thelast time I actually saw a banknote, we've always been a mobile firstenvironment, people leveraging mobile money and making mobile transactionsfor everything from buying air time to go into restaurants and that's thereality of the day in the ecosystem we...

...live in. That's incredible. And I'mgoing to ask the dumb, the dumb question here, but why not? DoesCryptocurrency play into this at all? Yes. Do you see, do you see a placewhere 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 inany environments where you have a either lack of trust or you have a verychallenging fx liquidity environment, you will see Cryptocurrency thriveright? And we've seen this across Africa. In fact, Africa is probably thethird largest Cryptocurrency market in the world when we talk about uh youknow transactions and the reason for that is is that people want to be ableto have the ability to transact and and make it easy across the world. So whatwe are seeing interesting enough is that we're seeing a bridge betweenCryptocurrency and digital currency. So for example, we've had markets likeSouth Africa and Nigeria that have made a strong intentions about rolling outdigital currencies. Uh so yes, we are seeing that as being a key and and corepart of of the financial digital ecosystem. It just feels like the usecase is so strong in in this particular set up, all those different currenciesso forth. I'm excited to see what comes. Well look let's let's let's continuedown the line on some of these other questions. I feel like I can sit hereand just maybe we'll have you back quarterly to give us the report onwhat's going on in the whole continent. You're going to be our correspondentsfor 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 forcontext is you know, I I'm I'm joined in january. Um I mean we were up to 500people so the company continues to grow significantly. We're hiring acrossseven african markets were hiring in the U. S. Top of mind for me is ismarkets like South Africa, always looking for talent. So yes, it's anamazing time in terms of the of those those roles, especially from a sort ofbusiness development and growth...

...perspective, always looking for forgreat people love it, love it. Well, I mean I hope those that are interestedin saying, hey maybe I want to make a change and go live somewhere else orsomething, you know reach out. I think it'll be interesting to to see if thistouches some people and then of course do you have any shout outs to getpeople 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'sgoing on in the world of tech within africa. Absolutely. So, so I, I I willgive a shout out to two G B, who's our Ceo and founder a flood wave and allthe 495 waivers across the world that are doing amazing, amazing work. Soshout out to them. And I think for me, another big shout out is all of thegreat entrepreneurs, whether you've made that big decision of moving fromyour home country and we've seen this across the world, amazing companiesthat 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 Senegalwho was a factory worker um in Italy, his his name is, is cabbie Lane. He'sgot 100 and 120 million Tiktok followers. Um, so he, he handed, helanded in in ITaly and, and just started, you know, to do some amazingwork around uh, you know, comedy and and entertaining and he's donephenomenally well and I think they're all these success stories of people whoare in Korea that would not have been imaginable 10 years ago, you thinkabout where Tiktok is now and, and, and what you can do around the creativeeconomy. So what excites me is and shot us of all those people who might havemade risky decisions of Korea's and never imagined existed and and they'vemade have made that jump. And so I think for me that that's a commendableopportunity when when people are doing that really in african across the worldlove that. That I think I've actually seen his his stuff where he, where heuh he gives a very interesting disapproving face to a lot of stuff. Ithink 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 withthis, but I always ask for a restaurant recommendation uh what, where should wego eat? So this is another interesting story for me. So when I, when I stilllived in the US, I traveled quite a bit, I fell in love with P. F. Chang'sChilean sea bass. Okay, so what I, what I normally did wherever I was travelingacross the US, I would go and order a Chilean sea bass and I was looking forthe consistency and I would always tell the chef and pull the chef out and saylisten you're Chilean sea bass is amazing. But about three years ago Iwent 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 asconsistent as an amazing, but part of it is I hadn't had a couple of yearsbut that's that's my restaurant stories that you know, you stick to somethingyou 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 popularperhaps dish that has ever been mentioned on the, on the show, probablyselling million of them millions of them chang's and uh and so we'll haveto say the specific recommendation is we got to go to bahrain and go to thatP. F. Chang's but I must say that you know, since I am from Africa, you knowI'm from Zimbabwe, we have an amazing restaurant called called the bomarestaurant which is in victoria Falls and I encourage anyone who's coming toZimbabwe, visit to Victoria Falls amazing place and and and and go to theboma, you'll get an exquisite, you know...

...menu there that is well worth the moneyand time now now we're getting the secret, this is a good stuff manawesome, so cool to chat. I mean we've got so much more, we can cover butwe're going to cut a choice so we can leave a little meat on the bone. Haveyou on again? Thank you so much for staying up late and excited to justkeep in touch man, Fantastic brand, appreciate that and and shout out topavilion. It's been an amazing group, especially for me just working withdifferent teams across across the world. So happy to be part of Pavilions. Loveit man. Love it. Thanks so much. You see something All right, that's our show. Thank youso much for listening. If you love the show, rate and review in the Applepodcast, Spotify app, send it to friends and and smash that subscribebutton reminder. This episode was brought to you by Sandoz. So theydeliver modern direct mail, personalized gifts and other physicalimpressions that make your outreach more personally. I had so much funtoday was such a killer episode. Hope you appreciated it and get out thereand pressure numbers. If you see something, say something.

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