[How We Made It In Africa] The journey so far: Brad Magrath, co-founder, Zoona

Brad Magrath is the co-founder and CEO of Zoona, a financial services company that offers money transfers and payment solutions. The company has operations in Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique as well as support offices in South Africa.

1. Tell us about one of the toughest situations you’ve found yourself in as a business owner.
We started a business, disrupted the market, effectively created a whole new customer base and revenue opportunity and became the dominant market player and strongest consumer brand for a few years.

The challenge about proving something works is that then the bigger players are attracted in and can replicate, invest and take you on. We aggressively competed and maintained our leadership for a few years, but did not have deep enough pockets to win, and we were knocked off our perch with a bump – a big bump.

We had to totally re-invent ourselves and our business. We pivoted from a consumer business model to a B2B model. This required a massive change in culture, staff, cost, brand and a whole new way of doing business – including our previous competitors becoming our customers and suppliers. It was incredibly tough times that required humility, conviction, fortitude and resilience.

To pivot and come out the other side we had to focus on understanding and solving our new customers’ pain points, and then cutting all the legacy costs that did not support our new business. Pivots are tough but if you address the real issues and problems, and then communicate and commit to the change, it is a real win to come out the other side as a very different business, with new opportunities and challenges to address.

2. What business achievement are you most proud of?

Over the last 10 years, more than 4,000 entrepreneurs in Zambia and Malawi have earned over $300 million servicing our products to more than three million customers. Both markets have transformed over the last decade with massive uptakes in financial inclusion and digitalisation. This has been a massive effort by so many people, and we are humbled that we were able to play a part.

But something we are more proud of is that we are still standing and moving forward, and just as passionate about what we do. There have been ups and downs, but we have loved the ride, and still do.

Read the full article from How We Made It In Africa here.

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