Recently I had the chance to speak with Kingsley Abrokwah, the CEO of KudiGo. He is a Ghanaian entrepreneur who is not afraid of dreaming.

When he was younger, he worked at a call center to fund his education and obtained a degree in Network Engineering. In 2012, he started his first company recruited a team of locals to do IT outsourcing for international clients. The financing for this project fell through, so he changed directions and started a software development company.

In the meantime, he received the opportunity to become an entrepreneur in training at the Meltwater School of Entrepreneurship. This experience equipped him with practical skills for starting a tech company. Empowered by this new knowledge, he grew his software company to $100,000 in revenue.

But his ambition did not stop there. After identifying a painful problem that his grandmother experienced when applying for a loan, he started Kudigo.

We set out to reach out and create an ecosystem where each and every individual stakeholder engaged in any form of retail on the continent can have a clear path to business growth, scale and sustainability.

What problems did you identify that made you decide to start KudiGo?

In Africa, micro-businesses in the street corners are run by individuals like my grandmother. These business owners do their financial calculations in their heads instead of using digital tools, which prevents them from having data to back up any loan requests.

When this occurs, the micro-financing banks will give them high-interest rates in exchange for even the smallest of funds. A loan of $100 would come at a steep cost of a 40% interest rate even for businesses that have a stable cash flow. Without any other options, people like my grandmother has to take this loan and quite often can’t pay it back. This is a major problem at the retail level and one that we were determined to conquer.

KudiGo was created to work specifically to build management software for retailers such as my grandmother. This will give them the ability to digitize their service and be able to present the data the banks require in exchange for fair loans so that they can grow their businesses.

Who are your current customers and how do you reach them?

As of the current day, we have three categories of customers.

The first is the informal business owners who do not have physical infrastructures and rely on traditional methods to sell their items. These users typically do not have technological means that are comparable with the other businesses around and for them, we offer our free product option.

The second type is the micro SMEs, that work out of a semi-permanent structure, for them, we offer the app to manage their store and payment processing for non-cash payments.

Our third type of customer is our SME businesses, most are pharmacies, that have the proper brick and mortar stores with multiple branches. These people are the ones that we see utilizing our app to the fullest extent.

As a company in Ghana, quite a high percentage of our potential customers have a smartphone, which means our problem does not lie with having to drive mobile phone penetration. However, our problem does lie within having to get the software on people’s phones.

We have found ways to connect with our potential customers including marketing through Facebook ads, having available live customer service, and creating videos, in the local language, to teach users about our application.

We also partner with different market associations and trade groups to organize workshops to educate team members on our available services.

What services does KudiGo offer to small business owners?

As a business owner, you must adapt to survive this new trend and focus on what’s more important: maximizing profit and reducing costs. No matter which business entity you run, I believe that you should seek an advantage over your competition.

To do this, you need to learn about the customers, their demands and values, and what you can offer which can all be completed through KudiGo Storefront, an all-inclusive retail engine.

KudiGo Storefront utilizes an Android tablet screen, a built-in Barcode/QR scanner and receipt printer, is Sim Card and Wifi-enabled, can process Card and NFC payments. All of this is used to empower the micro-business owner by giving insight to their sales margins, customers, suppliers, and have intelligent business alerts at their fingertips.

This retail engine was taken a step further with a recent innovation named KudiGo Storefront 360, which was designed as a web and mobile-based business solution to offer a 360° oversight of business operations, online or offline.

We also look at the sales agents and examine their performances as well as look at business owners’ current stock level and access the product’s action history.

We offer these insights to help make the effective decisions needed to grow a business’s operations such as being able to see profits, track where the money is going, and decide on an effective inventory. All of these features allow the owner to grow their business and stay on top.

We have come up with a business model that can monetize these clients in different ways. If you are a user of the free service, we will charge a 1% fee on every non-cash payment that is processed. These users get to manage their store with up to 50 items in stock, a daily limit of 10 SMS receipts, accept all payments except CARD, and have access to basic support.

However, if you sign up for the service that costs $13.99 a month, the cheapest on the market, you get more features and more daily limits.

How did your company adapt to the current business environment?

COVID-19 has presented its challenges as our customers are losing money. I took a step back and saw a solution for my company to help those that are struggling and help them attract more business.

We created an e-commerce software that acts as the African version of Shopify but also helps the micro businesses digitize their inventory and open their online store.

This software, at around $2 a month, offers our customers a unique website that is partnered with UBER, BOLT, and other companies that assist in delivering products, to overcome logistics struggles, as well as allow your store to take any type of payment option.

We pride ourselves on differing from the competition by only charging transaction fees instead of gaining sales commission. This allows retailers to have a cost-effective platform for selling their products and have more money flowing through their business.

What is KudiGo RapidGate and how do you help the FMCG enterprises?

We saw that bigger corporations, such as Unilever, are affected by the loss of visibility and data on the product once it leaves the warehouse. This makes it difficult for the company to project its future production and revenue numbers, directly impacting the retailers.

To address the gap between the distributors and retailers, we created KudiGo RapidGate which is designed for suppliers that provide goods directly to retailers in sub-Saharan Africa.

This allows the micro-businesses and suppliers alike to gain back control of their retail and distribution network. We notice trends in costs and product supply as well as inform suppliers about their retailer’s habits, giving our clients the ultimate business to buyer knowledge. This data also allows us to build a solution at the distributor level to reconnect seamlessly with the retailers.

Who is the team behind KudiGo and what’s your team’s long-term vision?

Gideon Adjekum Boateng, Bright Ahedor, Lucky Dogbe and I met at Meltwater School of Entrepreneurship and started KudiGo in 2017.

Gideon has over 10 years of experience in backend development, server architecture design, and cybersecurity. This has allowed him to find a niche within innovative and disruptive technologies that allow the building of platforms and architecture alike. Bright is an Aerospace Engineer that is passionate about technology’s role in our future.

We have been bootstrapping from the beginning. But we’ve raised 450K USD as a seed round from an accelerator called Founders Factory Africa as well as two other angel companies. However, we are looking to do another seed round in the next 6 months.

Currently, we have 6000 users on our platform who are doing over 3 million transactions each quarter. Our goal is to ensure that every retailer, who needs software can afford software, and every other player in the market, such as bank or FMCG have visibility on these retailers and can help them grow their business, either through loans or other products finance.

The ultimate goal is to scale up and bring our product to more individuals, become cash flow positive, allow people to obtain cheaper loans, and overall let individuals grow their business.

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