Kenya’s SNDBX is helping African startups build for global markets


In the past week, there has been yet another controversy regarding Flutterwave, and the Internet has been buzzing about it. The fledgling company got itself into a tangled situation that it might have been able to avoid with the assistance of a compliance professional. In the present day, that is one of the gospels that SNDBX preaches in Kenya.

The company provides a "one-stop shop" for any and all types of professionals, including those in the fields of accounting, law, marketing, human resources, and business development, in order to assist new businesses in expanding their operations. Both the questionable problem and its proposed solution involve a lot of nuances and complexities.

It is a widely held belief that ninety percent of new businesses fail within their first few years of operation. The most significant causes of this failure were an insufficient amount of capital and the absence of investors. These factors were manifestations of more fundamental problems, such as those with the company's recruitment procedure.

It is common practice for rapidly expanding startups all over the world to seek out and recruit software engineers in order to develop robust software features for their products. And this is something that is completely understandable given that the majority of founders have the goal of creating the next Amazon, Facebook, or PayPal.

However, the data suggests that once a company has up to six employees, it is more successful to focus on the non-technical roles rather than the technical roles. According to Angel.co, with the overarching objective of achieving widespread adoption, they have begun the hiring process for positions in product management, design, and content.

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Companies that are successful on a global scale typically have structures that are more complex than those we've already listed.

For example, the first paragraph of this article makes more sense when you take into account the fact that legal and compliance issues are also the primary reason why most startups fail. This could be seen as disregarding the significance of having adequate knowledge of financial matters in other contexts.

These things are currently being played out within Africa's rapidly expanding entrepreneurial scene. As businesses expand their operations and become more well-known on a global scale, they begin to seek out executives who have worked in more regimented business settings and turn to one of the Big Four consulting firms — Deloitte, Ernst & Young (EY), PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), and Klynveld Peat Marwick Goerdeler (KPMG) — for assistance in putting structure in place.

Regrettably, a relatively small number of small businesses achieve that level of success. Joram Mwinamo, the CEO of SNDBX, was well aware of this fact when he made the decision to assist African businesses in constructing the infrastructure necessary to bring their solutions to a global audience.

Putting the groundwork in place for SNDBX

 2 1109Joram Mwinamo, CEO of SNDBX

Mwinamo became actively involved with AISEC, a non-profit organization that focuses on global leadership, while he was attending Egerton University for his studies in computer science. This gave him experience in the management field, and the activities that followed led to him working in Europe for a period of time.

I realized that local businesses lacked some good internal systems, processes, and structures that would help them to scale as a result of the way organizations were structured in the West. I drew this conclusion based on the fact that Western organizations were organized in the way that they are. Mwinamo says, "As a result, I became very interested in how we can package this knowledge, this learning, and this consultancy for African-led companies, and whether or not we can assist them in comprehending how to structure their financials, human resources, and marketing."

Mwinamo and his team started what is now known as WYLDE International in 2007 and began learning and implementing this structure so that they could assist other businesses. Mwinamo states that once they were able to patch up these management structures, they started seeing an increase in revenue.

" It became abundantly clear to us that people simply lacked the knowledge of what to do, and as a result, their businesses would stagnate because they struggled to determine how to structure their products, services, and other similar things. Therefore, we began assisting them in the process of formulating their strategies. Some of them saw an increase in revenue of tenfold or twentyfold, while others began to scale their operations and opened offices in countries such as Uganda, Rwanda, and Tanzania.

Mwinamo quickly became aware, as the company grew, that it was not adhering to the principles that it was teaching to other startups, nor was it holding itself accountable to those principles. As a means of holding itself accountable, the company moved swiftly to establish a corporate structure and put its other lessons into practice.

At this point, WYLDE's model consisted of nothing more than a straightforward proposition: create methods for businesses to enhance a variety of facets of their operations. Because of this, it experienced a unique form of growth that ultimately resulted in the conception of SNDBX.

We would hear things like, "You say, in our strategy, we need to work on our brand; who should we work with? every time we would do a strategy for a customer. Or, "You mentioned in your strategy that we [also] require the assistance of an accountant or a legal professional."

The company decided to take the initiative to compile a list of reliable consultants and consultants that they could confidently refer their customers to, and the customers were overjoyed with the proposals.

The question "If we are serving the same customers, why are we in different locations?" was one of the logical questions that we posed to ourselves. And that more or less solidified the notion that it would be a lot more productive if we had all of these consultants come into one location.

They made the decision to put this concept to the test by inviting a select group of advisors to a modest office space. After that, it instituted a policy that prohibited its consultants from engaging in competitive activities. This meant that it could only bring on one legal or accounting professional at a time.

The inner workings of the SNDBX

SNDBX

The sandbox concept has been investigated on a global scale as well as in other African nations. For example, Nigeria's Central Bank has begun work on a sandbox framework, which will assist financial technology companies in developing their products in a regulated setting prior to their launch.

In other instances, where the focus is on one industry or regulatory body, this is the situation. At each stage, the startup interacts with seasoned professionals in the field. The SNDBX, which is led by Mwinamo but is missing vowels, on the other hand, brings together up to 33 different experts for entrepreneurs.

We have almost every professional service that you can think of under one roof in a format that is similar to that of a coworking hub. When business owners have a need for these services, they need only make their way to the reception area, where a member of staff will assist them in locating the appropriate specialist to speak with about how to expand their company.

Mwinamo maintains that SNDBX is brand agnostic when it comes to projects involving agriculture, education, and the creative sector, despite the fact that the company has begun several projects related to technology. Joram and his team of nine seasoned experts have devised a foolproof plan in order to entice new businesses or businesses that are looking to expand to Kenya.

Mwinamo explains that the difference is due to the diversity of the SNDBX, despite the fact that the model appears to be an accelerator.

It's almost like being in a hospital, where you would have different specialists diagnose the patient, and then you'd get a better diagnosis because the issue would be looked at from different points of view, and you'd get higher quality care than if you went to just one specialist.

" We have built proprietary tools in terms of canvases and technology that assist in tracking the progress of the businesses that we serve.

SNDBX capitalizes on the high volume of clients it has in order to develop pricing strategies for its services. These strategies can also be applied to the fees that consultants charge startups. The fee for participating in one of the company's startup programs for corporate customers can range anywhere from ten dollars to one hundred and fifty dollars, depending on the length of the workshop.

" The monthly fee that the consultants here pay us covers everything from the electricity bill to the Internet service. Because of this, we were awarded a small fee, which enables us to cover the expenses we incurred while using the SNDBX.

A perspective on growth and expansion

 4 1109SNDBX regularly holds workshops for corporate clients

As the business expanded, it began to formulate a maxim that other African businesses could use to guide their expansion into global markets. If a company in China or the United States can pull it off, then there's no reason African companies can't do the same. argues Mwinamo.

" In certain circumstances, we have certain advantages that are built into the system, such as lower operating costs, cheaper labor, and other similar factors. If we adopt the same kind of management structures as they would, we ought to have the capability, from a technical standpoint, of building global brands. As a result, we conduct a significant amount of research, which you may know comes from either leading companies such as McKinsey or companies that compete with us. How are the Big Four able to pull this off?

" Then we just built our own locally adapted framework tools and walked into a company, put in an intervention, and when they started to grow and scale, we realized that it actually worked.

To this point, the organization has experienced a great deal of success, which can be seen in the form of companies such as The Pathology Network, which is an AI-powered health platform that has expansion plans spanning both Africa and Europe. In addition to that, there is Parapet, a cleaning company that has operations in more than four countries across Africa.

When we assist our customers in expanding their businesses, we do not consider them to be African businesses; rather, we consider them to be businesses operating on a global scale, and we assist them in developing a strategy for expanding in this manner.

Due to the one-of-a-kind nature of this business model, SNDBX has been able to secure almost $700,00 in funding from investors. According to Joram, the company's annual revenue reached as high as $150,000 in 2021 and is projected to reach $400,000 the following year (2022).

Even though the company has customers in the Philippines, Indonesia, Ethiopia, and Nigeria thanks to its 2,000 business connections, the vast majority of its customers are located in Nairobi, Kenya.

SNDBX intends to expand the mission to other African countries, beginning with cities in Kenya such as Mombasa, then moving on to East African cities such as Kampala, Dar es salaam, or Addis Ababa, and finally moving on to other African nations.

" If we have SNDBXs in those locations, it becomes a platform through which companies can grow and scale because you'd go and find a local lawyer, a local marketer, or a local HR person so that they can help you register the company. " If we have SNDBXs in those locations, it becomes a platform through which companies can grow and scale.

They will assist you in developing a strategy for entering the local market and will assist you in recruiting locally qualified individuals, allowing you to launch your business successfully. So the answer is yes, we are looking forward to expanding into new play areas in the near future.

It is interesting to note that Mwinamo claims he has been receiving requests to launch in the United States, Europe, and Denmark; however, the country of Kenya continues to be his primary focus.

We have the potential to work with tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of small businesses across the nation. Because of this, we are considering expanding into other cities to provide a solution for the problems faced by the small businesses located in those cities.

Mwinamo foresees a future in which the company will be able to scale without the need for a physical location and launch virtual SNDBXs in multiple countries. Currently, the company is working on developing a digital platform that will assist with the inner workings of the SNDBX.

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