Meet entrepreneurs in Zambia, Singapore, and India

Happy Wednesday!

Are you new around here? 50+ new readers have joined us since last week! If you’re one of them, please introduce yourself.

This morning, I saw an intriguing post on LinkedIn about entrepreneurship in Africa. We’ve got boots on the ground in South Africa, but as for the rest of the continent, we need your help.

Do you agree that Kigali (Rwanda), Abuja (Nigeria), and Kampala (Uganda) are the top 3 cities in Africa to find the largest number of founders? Should Cape Town and Nairobi be positioned in spots #4 and #5, respectively?

In today's email:

  • Think with Muchu Kaingu — also featured in this issue — a Zambian entrepreneur and co-founder of a “Fintech for Good” company

  • Build with John Chua, a Singaporean entrepreneur with vast experience in the hospitality industry

  • Grow: More highlights from my interview with Indian mental health entrepreneur Sakshi Shah

  • Watchlist: Coming very, very soon… our interviews with the folks from Founder Institute

Think with Lupiya’s Muchu Kaingu

Short, sweet, and full of insights about doing business in sub-Saharan Africa: that sums up my interview with Muchu Kaingu

Muchu is an entrepreneur from Zambia who, along with his wife, Evelyn Chilomo Kaingu, is making big waves in fintech after a recent Series A funding round of $8.25M. (Side note: in last week’s email, I mistakenly wrote “a growing fintech startup in Namibia” - sorry, y’all!)

Our interview starts with Muchu sharing his experiences founding a tech consultancy, launching a legal research platform called Apptorney, and starting a trading business. He then discusses the problem of access to finance in Zambia and how it led him to create Lupiya — now recognized as one of 485 “Fintech for Good” companies.

Muchu’s thoughts on global entrepreneurship

  • Entrepreneurship is driven by a desire to solve problems creatively and make a more significant impact.

  • Access to finance is a significant challenge for entrepreneurs, particularly in Africa, and addressing this problem can have a transformative effect.

  • Fundraising requires careful preparation, including creating a compelling pitch deck and developing an elevator pitch.

  • Generating revenue early on is crucial for attracting investors and demonstrating the viability of a business.

We also discussed…

  • Navigating the Challenges of COVID-19

  • Securing Investments and Partnerships

  • Expanding Services and Fundraising

  • Recent Fundraising Success

  • Navigating Friends and Family Rounds

  • Transitioning to VC Fundraising

  • Importance of Revenue Generation

If we get 15 YES votes, I’ll publish the video. Let me know if you wanna see it.

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Build with Singaporean entrepreneur John Chua

During an in-depth conversation with Singaporean entrepreneur John Chua, he and I explored his journey as an entrepreneur in the hospitality industry and the challenges faced in adapting to technological changes and major disruptions.

We covered a wide range of topics — from building a hospitality career to looking beyond track records and revenue and considering cultural differences in international business.

John is a veteran in his industry and has established offices in Singapore, Thailand, and China for his company, Burnaby Solutions.

John’s business-building approach includes…

  • Adapting to technological changes and disruptions

  • Providing personalized service and understanding the customer journey

  • Networking and building relationships

  • Strategic planning and targeting key business opportunities

  • Valuing trust, responsibility, and leadership

  • Considering the human side of business and the stories behind it

  • Leveraging events and exhibitions for valuable networking and learning opportunities

If we get 15 YES votes, I’ll publish the video. Let me know if you wanna see it.

Do you want to see my interview with John Chua?

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Grow with Shakshi Shah, co-founder of GoodLives

Why should I spend money on this?

Whether you realize it or not, this question pops into your head A LOT.

Estimates are all over the map — from “36 ads a day on Facebook” all the way to “somewhere between 4,000-10,000 ads per day” — so I’m not even going to attempt to quantify it, but there’s a shitload of you should buy my stuff happening pretty much nonstop. We can all agree on that.

So how did a handful of Indian entrepreneurs, Shakshi Shah, Lawrence Lovedeep, and Lawrance Bamania, monetize their business and grow to serve customers across eight nationalities in a niche shrouded in stigma

“We have people coming in from Oman, Nigeria, Canada, USA, Europe — a lot of them,” says Shakshi. (Trusted by 500k+ people, according to their website.)

After the second wave of the pandemic in India, Shakshi and her team noticed that, even if the demand for mental health services was high, there was still a reluctance to pay (for therapy) amongst their customers and prospects.

“Even though it was cheap, it was not a money matter. It was more like, ‘I don't know whether this is going to help me or not. Why should I spend money? Maybe this is just a phase,’” Shakshi recalls hearing from their potential customers then.

“All of the stigma or lack of awareness were so deeply intact in the system that we realized we would need a lot of money to market. And while being bootstrapped, it was very, very difficult for us to pull out that money,” she says.

Not one to resist the urge to play devil’s advocate, I tell Shakshi that I think the mental health stigma exists pretty much everywhere in the world.

To what extent is the stigma worse in India?

“In urban cities, it's much better now as people are much more open to accepting this as a reality. The younger generations are much more open to accepting mental health as a problem. But if I talk about the tier 2 or tier 3 cities, especially with a slightly aged population above 40, there is still a lot of stigma.

“They would rather go to a psychiatrist before a psychologist,” she said.

So, you have a customer base with deeply entrenched beliefs hindering their wallet-opening tendencies and no cash to pour into an expensive, belief-changing marketing campaign.

What do you do?

If you’re Shakshi, you ask for help.

“We had a couple of advisors — we talked to people who were very well known in the industry — and we realized that if we move to a B2B model where we were pitching the corporates for their employee wellness program, it could be a good model for us to grow and hence be pivotal,” Shakshi recalled.

Attributing their growth to “perseverance and the ability to adapt,” Shakshi believes these two factors are non-negotiable. “Your biggest flaw, I would say, for not being able to accomplish what you want to as an entrepreneur,” she adds.

This is the recipe for growth for Shakshi and the GoodLives team: You ask for help, pivot, and “the day you give up, it's over, right?”

🔎 Watchlist

Keep an eye on our website. We’re gearing up to publish stories from five inspiring entrepreneurs with experience as mentors and alums of the Founder Institute Accelerator:

Until next time,

Nolan Bulger

P.S. Did you miss last week’s issue? Read it now.

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