Constructing LAfricaMobile in Kinshasa: Interview with Malick Diouf and Marie-Laure Lepas 

Constructing LAfricaMobile in Kinshasa: Interview with Malick Diouf and Marie-Laure Lepas 

Noel K. Tshiani is the founding father of Congo Enterprise Community. On this interview for TechCabal, he speaks with Malick Diouf, CEO of LAfricaMobile, and Marie-Laure Lepas, Nation Director based mostly in Kinshasa within the Democratic Republic of Congo, about their experiences within the startup area in Africa.

Are you able to inform us about your background and what led you to start out LAfricaMobile, the primary multi-channel, multi-operator, and multi-country digital cloud communication platform in West and Central Africa?

Malick Diouf: My identify is Malick Diouf, CEO and co-founder of LAfricaMobile, a multi-channel communication platform serving to African companies to simply work together with their prospects on cell phone. I’ve a number of years of expertise within the telecommunications trade between Africa and Europe with a stable background in cell service innovation particularly.

As a telecommunications engineer with a grasp’s diploma in info techniques administration, I attempt to capitalise on the success of my experiences to advertise innovation and cell applied sciences as drivers of progress for companies and organisations in Africa.

How does LAfricaMobile’s platform assist shoppers have interaction with their goal audiences utilizing varied communication channels resembling SMS, USSD, WhatsApp Enterprise, voice, and airtime?

MD Our all-in-one platform provides a singular entry level for African corporations to facilitate their interactions (advertising, notifications, customer support, and different functionalities) with their prospects on their cell phones. No matter the kind of cellphone their prospects have, smartphone or not, linked to the web or not, we provide these corporations the likelihood to succeed in their goal prospects effectively. The icing on the cake: we additionally enable them to handle their communications and companies to non-literate prospects in native African languages.

What challenges did you face whereas constructing and launching LAfricaMobile, and the way did you overcome them?

MD The primary main problem we confronted was a ignorance. I feel that our Nation Director, Marie-Laure Lepas, has largely spoken on this level. The bodily presence and proximity to the market contributed quite a bit to enabling us to beat this primary sturdy barrier.

This was not essentially a novelty for us, as we’ve been working in a number of different African nations for a while. However the agility which is certainly one of our sturdy values – to not say our DNA – was as soon as once more put to make use of to satisfy this problem.

In your opinion, how necessary is efficient communication for companies in West and Central Africa, and the way can LAfricaMobile’s platform contribute to their success?

MD: The marketplace for digital communication in Africa may be very fragmented with sturdy variations. Reaching prospects by way of their cell phones stays a problem for African corporations and establishments as a result of three main constraints:

  1. The expertise combine is dispersed with 62% of customers on 2G expertise, 34% on 3G and solely 4% on 4 or 5G.
  1. Many cell operators provide the identical communication merchandise and function independently with out built-in platforms or companies.
  1. A good portion of cell customers have low literacy ranges and a desire for voice companies in native African languages.

LAfricaMobile addresses every of the communication bottlenecks recognized above by providing an all-in-one multi-channel answer together with a disruptive native language answer.

Trying to the longer term, what are your plans for the expansion and enlargement of LAfricaMobile, and the way do you see the corporate evolving to satisfy the altering wants of shoppers within the area?

MD: Our mission is to assist all African corporations to create a robust reference to their very own prospects in order that they’ll develop their companies. At present, we’re primarily in West and Central Africa. However I’m not afraid to let you know that our ambition is continental. We’re conscious of the particular challenges in our continent however we depend on agility and proximity with our prospects to satisfy these challenges.

Are you able to inform us about your background and the way you turned concerned within the startup scene in Kinshasa?

Marie-Laure Lepas: Coming from the sphere of promoting with my first diploma, I then obtained a grasp’s diploma from ICHEC Brussels Administration College from which I reoriented myself in direction of the sphere of finance. I labored as a Finance and Audit Supervisor after which as a Fraud and Corruption Danger Supervisor in a European administration division with a give attention to venture monitoring.

However conscious of the significance of latest applied sciences and the digital divide affecting Africa and ladies, and impacting their place within the economic system, and I made it my dissertation matter. In 2018, I launched an initiative to carry primary digital training to deprived ladies.

After that, I had the chance to work as a Monetary Enter Supervisor within the negotiation and implementation of worldwide initiatives within the subject of telecommunications and digital expertise. By means of its imaginative and prescient and values, LAfricaMobile has met my mission to take part within the growth of Africa, right here by way of tech.

What has been your main achievement since LAfricaMobile began operations in Kinshasa, and the way does it mirror the corporate’s mission and imaginative and prescient?

ML: LAfricaMobile’s imaginative and prescient is to make the cell phone progress driver in Africa. Presently, our most important achievements in Kinshasa revolve round our collaborations with a number of gamers within the banking sector and fintechs whose merchandise immediately deal with the wants of Kinshasa and the Congolese inhabitants usually. This brings options that reply to their difficulties and thus contribute to bettering their well-being.

Appropriate banking and fintech options, resembling permitting retailers to promote their merchandise by accepting digital funds, enable them to promote extra, and farmers to obtain their funds regardless of the place they’re situated in distant areas. By offering glorious service to those entities, we’re fulfilling our mission to assist all companies on the continent to create a robust reference to their very own prospects and to develop their companies.

How have shoppers responded to LAfricaMobile’s answer available in the market, and what affect has it had on their companies?

ML: LAfricaMobile is a brand new participant available in the market within the Democratic Republic of Congo however has practically a decade of expertise in a number of different African and European nations. The presence of LAfricaMobile, an skilled and authorized firm with a variety of glad prospects, has delighted prospects within the Congolese market and has been very nicely acquired.

Furthermore, wholesome competitors between markets and applied sciences is as efficient as that between corporations. Certainly, the advantage of the latter is immediately felt by the client because it exerts downward strain on costs but in addition an enchancment within the high quality of services provided.

In your opinion, what are the distinctive challenges and alternatives of managing a startup in Kinshasa, and the way have you ever addressed them?

ML: The primary problem is the ignorance adopted by administrative procedures. The primary one was overcome by our direct and day by day presence available in the market in addition to proximity to the important thing gamers within the sector (regulators, suppliers, prospects, and comparable corporations).

The agility and expertise gained in varied nations enable LAfricaMobile to adapt rapidly, with a view to satisfying its prospects as finest as potential. The scale of the DRC market, and the quite a few wants nonetheless to be met within the subject of value-added companies in most sectors of exercise: banks, insurance coverage corporations, net companies, logistics, IT companies corporations are all alternatives to be seized.

Trying to the longer term, what are your plans for the expansion and enlargement of LAfricaMobile’s operations in Kinshasa? And the way do you see the corporate persevering with to innovate as you proceed to offer worth to your shoppers?

ML: For this primary 12 months of operation, our most important goal is to stabilise our positioning. By means of the distinctiveness of its most important worth proposition: an all-in-one, multi-channel, multi-operator, multi-country platform with user-friendly ergonomics and detailed statistics in actual -time, LAfricaMobile has already confirmed its place amongst revolutionary African corporations.

Nonetheless, in a means of steady enchancment, we regularly evaluation our answer proposals to adapt them to market wants. Additionally, we’ve a division completely devoted to analysis and growth which permits us to arrange merchandise on the reducing fringe of innovation whereas respecting worldwide norms and requirements. Furthermore, LAfricaMobile has obtained a certification from Bureau Veritas: the ISO/IEC 27001, which is the usual for info safety administration techniques (ISMS).

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