Connected Kenya is in day two at Leisure Lodge in Diani. Right after the Microsoft Innovations Award was the Enterprise Kenya panel debate where speakers were Mary Mwangi, Data Integrated Limited, Aaron Fu – Managing Partner at Nest Africa, Esther Muchiri – International Trade Centre National Project Co-ordinator, Rose Maghas – Greenbell Communications Limited Managing Director and moderated by Larry Madowo – NTV Technology Editor.
The conversation was around the setbacks that Kenyan companies face when trying to be competitive both locally and globally. And we had a case study by Mary Mwangi of Data Integrated Limited who have a hardware and software solution to integrate various payment options (Mobile money and cards) into one point of sale. That worked, till they needed to integrate tax into the payments and they’ve had this hurdle ever since.
The taxman is yet to get them leeway to trade and they’ve been through enough back and forth with the government agency. This is a company that went early to the market, but are yet to get through the problems that startups get on their way to success.
For their case it is bureaucracy. They have succeeded to implement the same in Rwanda, so they aren’t a mercy case all through, they thought beyond the border and can easily fit in the setting of a prophet being accepted anywhere else but home.
Aaron Fu is an advocate of ship early, test the market early and if it works it does, if it fails you do have a chance to rework it and get a working model early before you have put in so much work for nothing. “Get your product to the market early, get users, test with them and see if they like it early enough. That way you know if you are doing the right thing. Don’t build and build for years before finding out if you still sell, ” commented Aaron at the panel discussion.
The Kenya government through ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru still maintains the will and drive to support Kenyan startups and Joe advices that in such cases there are channels that Kenyans should pursue to weed out roadblocks such as the one Mary and her company suffered. He added that there is a concerted push to get systems to work and even if it meant pursuing legal options to get things done, they need to be pursued.