Commercial strategist Victor Cruz explains why the 2015 Global African…
Nana Agyemang Prempeh, one of four co-founders of Asoriba, a startup on a mission to revolutionise churches in Africa. Asoriba has been voted Best Startup in Ghana twice by Seedstars and Ringier/Pulse, Best Startup in Africa by Seedstars, and were participants in Techstars’ first cohort in Africa.
How would you describe your startup?
Asoriba is a a tool/platform that allows churches to effectively manage, engage and connect with their members. We have web and mobile apps for church leaders and members to easily connect with each other, get content from services, information about events, and donate/pay tithes and offerings. Think about it this way, the Asoriba mobile app is a Facebook for church members and leaders, and the Asoriba web app is a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool for church leaders to manage the church easily and effectively.
How did Asoriba start, and what challenge did you aim to solve?
It started when we (the four co-founders: Saviour Dzage, Jesse Johnson, Patrick Ohemeng Tutu and me, Nana) met at Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST Africa). We realised that we were all closely-affiliated with our respective churches. Diving deep into that, we found that churches in Africa face four major challenges: managing membership data; communicating with members beyond church services; managing finances; and reaching their members easily with real-time information about events, retreats and upcoming meetings.
These problems were the main categories of challenges we aimed to solve. We went on to build the management software, ie web app/CRM tool; and then we built the mobile app which is currently being used by thousands of church members of different churches across Africa.
Can you delve deeper into what your CRM and mobile apps do?
The CRM web app is a management software primarily focused on the church leaders. It helps them to collect and organise data in a very seamless way through members’ mobile phones. They can use mobile phones to update information about the church and its activities, and everything is organised in a database or CRM.
From this synchronised and organised data, the church leaders can segment their members into teams, groups and departments, and communicate relevant information with them via SMS and push notifications through the mobile app or through Facebook.
Asoriba also supports efficient financial management and transparency. Our software helps leaders manage their multiple streams of income or revenue, and track where the money is going and where it is coming from. Members can also send money and make donations to the church through their mobile app from their debit/credit cards or bank accounts straight into the church’s bank account with no hassle or inconveniences.
In addition, one of our most powerful web app features allows church leaders to manage multiple branches of their church wherever they are in the world. A church with branches on any continent can easily track money coming in and going out on one dashboard. Asoriba goes further to provide analytics and summaries to help the church leaders make smart, data-influenced decisions.
Which countries are you operating in?
We are currently in Ghana, Nigeria and just about to open up to South Africa.
How has Asoriba been funded so far?
We started Asoriba by bootstrapping. We ran it on our own cash flow, our own income and expenditures. A year after launch, we got into the Barclays Techstars Accelerator in Cape Town and there we received some seed-funding. Other than that, we have done proof of concept with partners and that’s primarily how we have funded Asoriba so far.
What has been your biggest entrepreneurial challenge?
My biggest entrepreneurial challenge since Asoriba has been talent. It’s tough to find the right talent and when you do find them, they don’t come cheap. So as a startup with not a lot of money, it’s really tough finding the best talent that we can depend on.
Are you seeking investment?
Yes, we are trying to. We want to raise USD $2million to facilitate a truly pan-African expansion, and are also looking to form partnerships that can help us break into the US and UK markets.
Which countries do you want to expand to?
Kenya and Congo are very critical countries and markets for us. Once we are in Kenya, we can easily get into Tanzania. NIgeria is very interesting because we already have a presence there through our partners, Interswitch, and we plan to focus and grow operations there because Lagos alone has about 20-22 million people, it’s such a big city.
For America and Europe, especially the UK, we have a lot of Africans in the diaspora who have churches with branches there. These churches have similar services, cultures and also challenges so if we’re able to bring value to them here in Africa, we can also serve them in the UK or US. For example Lighthouse and Pentecost churches – they have similar branches all over the world.
What’s your 10-year vision for Asoriba?
Asoriba is a Christian technology company set out to win more souls using technology as a tool. In the long term, we want to be able to know people came to Christ through our tools/platform and we want to be able to account for the number of these people who got to know God’s word through us.
We will be opening up our technology to allow different organised groups to connect with their members and transfer/receive donations. And that will be the next important phase of our company.
So finish this sentence, In 2020 Africa will be…
…the go-to continent in the world.