This article was contributed to TechCabal by Noel K. Tshiani, the founder of Congo Business Network.
In this exclusive interview for TechCabal, Noel K. Tshiani, founder of Congo Business Network, discusses with Félix Maroy, founder of FYATU, about the growing opportunities for fintech startups in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Please tell our readers about your professional background.
My professional journey started after graduating with a degree in business and administrative sciences. I started my career as a blogger sharing articles about my experience and research in tech, web, and mobile programming.
I had decided to take my career to the next level as a young entrepreneur by creating my first business, a streaming app inspired by Netflix. I was lucky enough to sell it a year later, allowing me to start other ventures and get a taste for entrepreneurship.
I started to develop an interest in payment systems and financial technology. From there, I founded FYATU, where I’m currently the managing director. Before FYATU, I had already designed PESAPAY, a core banking platform which I also sold a few months after its development and before the official launch to a microfinance institution.
How long have you been an entrepreneur and what solution does FYATU offer on the Congolese market?
I started my entrepreneurial path in 2016 by creating my first startup in video streaming before getting deeply into financial technology where I launched in 2018. Then in 2020, I launched FYATU, a company I founded to bring an innovative solution to the Congolese and African markets in general.
FYATU is a fintech platform that allows businesses and individuals to create virtual bank cards and use a modern card issuing API. We developed this solution to address the need for electronic payments in the Congolese and African markets, where there are still a number of businesses and individuals who do not have access to modern and secure payment methods.
We believe that our platform can help to improve the lives of businesses and individuals by facilitating transactions, reducing costs, and enhancing the security of payments.
What are the major actions that the public and private sectors can take this year to ensure the success of startups in Kinshasa?
In my opinion, there are several actions that the public and private sectors can take to ensure the success of Congolese startups in 2023, such as:
- Venture capital investment: Private investors and public funds can invest in startups to help them obtain the necessary funding for their development.
- Mentoring and acceleration: Startups can benefit from mentoring and acceleration programmes to help them develop their businesses and access important partner networks in their sectors.
- Market access: Startups can benefit from programmes and partnerships to access local and international markets and develop their businesses.
- Training resources: Startups can benefit from training programmes to improve their skills and help them meet the challenges of their businesses, especially in times when indicators are in the red.
- Favourable legal environment: Public authorities can ensure that laws and regulations support entrepreneurship and facilitate business creation.
It is important that the public and private sectors work together to create a favourable environment for startups, and for startups to have the resources they need to succeed.
When looking for customers, what is the most difficult challenge you have encountered and what has surprised you the most so far?
The most difficult challenge I have faced was convincing companies and individuals of the importance of our solution and how it can help them improve their business. It’s always difficult to convince people to change their habits or spend money on a solution they don’t know yet.
I remember the question a potential client asked me, and it was the question that helped me to define our offer in relation to our competitors. The question was: “Why would I need to use your solution which has no experience in the market when I can easily get a card from my bank?”
It was very easy to answer, but even after answering it I felt like I didn’t have the right explanation. And since then I have been inspired by this question to find little phrases that differentiate us from banks.
What has surprised me the most so far is how customers get hooked on our solution once they try and understand it. When we succeed in converting our prospects into customers, very often they recommend our solution to their friends and family. And for influencers, they share the experience with their followers on social media.
I was surprised when I typed FYATU on YouTube recently, I found over 100 videos made by our customers in more than 4 languages. This shows the importance of understanding the needs of customers and helping them understand how our solution can help them to achieve their goals.
What do international investors need to know about investment opportunities in the Democratic Republic of Congo, especially in startups?
In my opinion, there are several things that international investors need to know about investment opportunities in the Democratic Republic of Congo, especially in startups.
First of all, the Congolese market is growing, with a predominantly young and dynamic population, and a rapidly expanding economy. There are therefore opportunities for startups that can meet the needs of this growing population.
Secondly, sectors such as technology, financial services, health, and agriculture are promising sectors in the DRC with opportunities for startups that can meet the real needs of these sectors.
And finally, in terms of human resources, there is talent in the DRC that can be a driving force for the development of startups.