Senditoo allows Africans in the diaspora to send instant mobile phone credits to loved ones in their home country. The company’s transactions are instant, safe, and convenient. It also covers more than 140 destinations including 39 countries in Africa.
We had the opportunity to email interview the founder of Senditoo, Ibrahima Soumano who’s part of the Africans Building Africa movement.
- Tell us about yourself and your organization
My name is Ibrahima Soumano, an African techpreneur living in the United Kingdom, and i am the founder of Senditoo – the skyrocketing airtime transfer startup.
Every day, thousands of people living abroad use Senditoo to help their loved ones at home, especially and more and more in Africa, by buying them minutes for their mobile phones. The idea of building Senditoo came about during a trip to my home country, Guinea. On this particular trip, i visited our village where It became very apparent to me how valuable a small gift of a mobile top-up was. As it is customary to bring presents to siblings, I was advised by my dad to buy bundles of top-up vouchers which I did. Seeing the impact this had on these people was the tipping point for me. That’s when i felt that there must me millions more people living away from loved ones, who would love the opportunity to do the same. It did not stop since. We took the challenge and made it.
Today, most of our users are from Africa and topping-up to Africa. With Senditoo, in seconds only, you can recharge the mobile phone of a loved one who live thousand miles away. Again, for you, it’s a simple and easy way to support your family. For your loved ones, it’s a tangible and impactful service. Not only do you get to put a smile on the face of the people you care about, you give them access to an increasingly connected world.
- How much did you need to start your organization and how were you able to raise that capital?
As this was a personal initiative, the initial investment came from me. I am an adept of the LEAN MODEL, I first built a minimum viable product (MVP) then I was joined by a good friend of mine, Takwana Tyaranini my co-founder who shared the same sentiment and believed in the idea. Together we initiated the go to market with a little budget to see how people responded and the result was phenomenal.
At that point we realized that we need more capital to make a real impact and scale the business given the huge market potential. We approached three French investors, Thibault Launay, Célia Grémy and Romain Girbal, who believed in us and offered funding and put their network to work to allow us to grow faster.
Since then, we have developed a top-notch platform that allows our users access to a safer, easier and much faster airtime transfer service. It’s all about providing the best experience to our users. We also built our own API to develop new business-to-business partnerships, along with a multi-currency functionality to widen our customer base. And it works. We already have registered a significant growth of transactions in euros and US dollars. Now we are in the process of raising more funds to be more commercially aggressive.
- What are some of the challenges you face in your organization and how do you overcome those challenges?
We started generating revenue from day one and managing the flow of transactions to certain destinations that were not familiar to us was a real challenge at first but we have grown an understanding of these new markets overtime. There is also the aspect of fraud management that every online business faces, especially models like ours where we are dealing with a digital product. Once the order is approved, it cannot be reversed. We therefore have to constantly monitor and tweak our check mechanisms to respond to new strains of fraud techniques and ensure the right people are using our platform.
- Where do you see your organization in 5 years from now and what steps are you taking today to reach that objective?
We operate in a $4Bn market with an estimated yearly growth of 15 to 20%. Communication expenses account for 4 to 6% of household budgets of low income families in emerging economies. Generally speaking, these families are supported by relatives living abroad through remittances. Of the 250 millions people living away from their country, 75% do not know it is possible to send top-up back home. The potential is huge and there is room for growth!
In 5 years time we hope to leverage on the market potential and focus on corridors where we are seeing a massive uptake to achieve number 1 market position. We have put in place the right management team, partnered with talented developers and devised an aggressive commercial plan focused on putting our users first. We will cater for all type of users, even the more traditional over the counter types who have not been taken by the digital wave. To achieve this we will partner with community shops and re-sellers by providing them with a digital solution that is simple to use and adapted to their foot traffic.
- What advice would you give other entrepreneurs looking to start a business or invest in Africa?
I would say to any entrepreneur looking to start a business to take action. Start small but think big from Day 1! It’s important to build a prototype, a sample or something tangible you can showcase and have people take you seriously when you try to pitch your idea to investors or partners. Then surround yourself with talent and expertise, funding will follow easily once you pass these two stages.
- How is your business participating to the development of Africa?
Our service empowers the recipient of a mobile phone top-up with a means to communicate, the ability to make informed decision by having direct access to information. Informal traders in rural parts of Africa use mobile phones to monitor price fluctuations of their produces.