SUCCESSFUL SCENARIO

Zambia 2015 | TELECOMS, IT & MEDIA | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Stella Sata and Simba Rukayi, Managing Partners of Plan Store Business Solutions, on the country's progress in financial literacy and ICT adoption, and the business environment for startups.

Stella Sata
BIOGRAPHY
Stella Sata and Simba Rukayi were born in Lusaka and Kitwe, respectively. Stella Sata studied Management and Development of International Financial Systems (MSc) at the University of South Wales. Simba Ruyaki is a seasoned entrepreneur, both Stella and Simba started Plan Store Business Solutions in 2012.
Simba Rukayi
BIOGRAPHY
Stella Sata and Simba Rukayi were born in Lusaka and Kitwe, respectively. Stella Sata studied Management and Development of International Financial Systems (MSc) at the University of South Wales. Simba Ruyaki is a seasoned entrepreneur, both Stella and Simba started Plan Store Business Solutions in 2012.

How do you expect your client number to evolve in the near future?

Stella Sata With financial literacy increasing in Zambia and a growing number of mobile users, we will be able to reach more people through the mobile app. Our client base is already growing, and we only advertise on social media.

Simba Rukayi Basically, the whole essence of the mobile app is to allow for a system where people can gain a respectable level of financial knowledge without even being in touch with us. It is a financial planning mobile app that helps businesses make an informed decision. The application helps people running businesses to consider the variables and gain knowledge of their finances to gain a better understanding of how their businesses operate. The application is available on Android phones at the moment since access is spreading in most areas through that operating system, however we plan on rolling it out to apple store and release added products once we find an investor to help us financially . We want the application to be usable offline as well.

What role will this app and your company play in the social and economic development of the country?

SS Increasing financial literacy is key for development because the more people who understand business, the more sustainable businesses will be. That means small businesses will grow to medium-sized business, and more jobs will be created. Competition within the market will grow, which will increase efficiency of delivery of services. Also, people who are financially literate are more likely to pay taxes and stay visible in the market.

How would you characterize Zambia's progress in terms of ICT adoption?

SR ICT is growing at a rapid pace, and the use of smartphones is an indicator that people are interested in ICT-related issues. The knowledge base and interest base are growing, and more opportunities are being created to that effect. The government has come up with ICT sanctions on the primary and secondary syllabus in schools, which are now mandated as core subjects. That is a huge step towards ICT development with the government supporting such initiatives, and it shows we are growing in the right direction.

How would you assess the business environment in Zambia for startups like this one?

SS It is quite difficult to start a business on your own in Zambia. The environment is not particularly conducive, but the government and private institutions are taking steps to make it more so. They are trying to encourage startups to push forward their agenda through the Ministry of Youth or the Ministry of Communications. This is something that is progressing quickly. Small-scale companies are today being supported by larger entities. Our application is a pilot project funded by an enterprise called PEP Zambia, which supports private enterprises. through issuing a grant. There are several key players—large organizations— supporting smaller players like us.

What is needed to create a larger network of start-ups in the country?

SS The biggest problem is the market for our services and products; we need large organizations to buy products and services from the smaller companies. We are competing with businesses that have been in the industry for hundreds of years.

SR Many organizations would rather contract a foreign company for a smaller application even if it is something that Zambians can do. It is important to support local developers and corridors.

SS We need support in terms of competition to let our services and products be bought. Some will pay five times more for a foreign company, even though we can do it better and in less time.