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Keep Calm & Monetize: How to make it in African Tech industry


thenailabI have been battling with this issue for a while. Monetization. Every business savvy person will ask you this question, what’s your monetization strategy? when you talk of your idea. I believe it has different meanings depending on different location of the world.

An entrepreneur in the US will probably state their monetization strategy as Launch> offer the service free for early adopters > they will act as brand ambassadors and the testing subjects > once the services has hit market fit and growing steadily we can start charging or get advertisers. Easy. Meanwhile we are looking to raise a seed round for the next 16 months. Its sounds simple but it’s not even in the country with largest number of investors.

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Its harder here in Africa. In Africa even getting early adopters is hard, getting them to pay is harder, most tech Investors are foreigners and are looking for Social good ventures or eCommerce businesses.  Somehow we still make it, there are Kenyan owned and funded businesses that are doing very well. How have they done it?

A couple of strategies seem to work,

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First, Get employed on a decent salary save a little start your side hustle, support it with your salary until it can stand on its own, then come and run it on a fulltime basis. By then you have garnered enough experience and capital.

Second, Bootstrapping or  ‘Fake it till you make it’  In tech there is this perception you make a lot of money for sitting around hence we should be balling , ask any blogger , sometimes you have to act the part to get business, coz image sells . As a tech entrepreneur you just act it till you live it.

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Third, get an investor if you are lucky

Now, how do you easily monetize in Africa?

I like to separate the African market into Mass market product and Premium service market. Think of it like the 20/80 rule. 80 % of the wealth is controlled by the 20 % of the population. As an entrepreneur you ask yourself if you want to play in the 20% wealth owned by the 80 % or the 80 % wealth owned by 20%. Both are hard decisions. But technically it’s easier to reach the 20% market than the 80% all factors considered.  Most small Businesses are making money on the premium market. Large corporates like Safaricom and Daily nation deal with the mass market. But they all go home at night wealthier.

In whatever industry you are the simplest way to monetize is to charge from the start no matter how poor quality the product or service is, don’t offer free stuff. One paying customer is better than 100 non-paying and going by the old adage a shilling today is valuable than a shilling tomorrow.

Speaking of bootstrapping, here is something that twitter users will be interested in, if you market your products on twitter




It’s a tool that targets people talking about a particular subject on real time or in the last one week, helps you identify them and engage them.

For instance if you want to know people who are talking about monetization and what exactly they are talking about you can by just a push of a button. Magical stuff.

It has helped us gain more RELEVANT followers and identify people of interest in our industry. Using the tool we have grown our fan base by 1300 followers and engaged over 50,000 twitter uses in just 3 months. It has proven without a doubt it works.

The tool was developed for in house use but it gained a lot of interest from people who learnt about it , I believe we have a good thing going on here . The good folks at TechMoran have humbly requested  me to offer the first 5 interested users a 14 days free trial. The first 5 people to email me on  [email protected] get the free trail.

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Image courtesy of www.mbuguanjihia.com



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Kinyanjui Njonde
Kinyanjui Njondehttp://gigwapi.com
Business development manager at Gigwapi.com. Shares about experiences and lessons on African Start up scene and Events Industry. Future father

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