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Young African entrepreneurs « unblock » mobile phone connexion

Takwana Tyaranini from Zimbabwe and Ibrahima Soumano from Guinea are the brains behind Senditoo. Based in UK and helped by French investors, Senditoo is a fast growing mobile airtime startup that allows its users to instantly send mobile phone top-up.

Mobile phone usage on the rise in Africa

Growing global technological advancements have made it possible for third world countries to catch up with developed nations. While there is still a marginal gap in most sectors, the use of mobile phones for communication purposes is quiet equal. It is estimated that a whooping quarter of African inhabitants now own a mobile phone while more than half of the continents population is expected to have the gadget by 2030.

Owning a mobile phone has its costs – such as airtime and data purchasing- making it necessary for a user to have some form of monetary income in order to utilize its full potential. In fact, the World Bank recently released a report stating that communication expenses in developing economies represent 4 to 6% of household incomes.

A pair of African immigrants in Europe have come up with an astounding concept that has not only been well received by 39 African countries, but by over 140 countries throughout the globe making it one of the largest airtime transfer agent. Within those 140 countries, it is connected to 400 mobile operators with a clustered reach of about 4 billion prepaid subscribers.

A successful investment drive

Born out of the realization that most African nationals leave their homes in search of greener pastures abroad, the two African tech wizards who are now based in the United Kingdom have attracted over US$350 000 in investment from French investors. They, however, hope to raise $2 million in funding this year to boast their ambitious expansion plans.

Their business venture started with just a visit. Having being away from home for a lengthy period of time, Soumano returned to his native Guinea in 2015. Instead of bringing his family customary gifts, he brought them airtime vouchers.

The impact orchestrated by those airtime vouchers crystalized into an idea which in turn ignited a concept. « Many African’s leave their home countries in search of greener pastures but the constant need to be in touch with relatives and friends back home is realistic. So much happens while they are away and cellphones play a pivotal role in letting them know of all developments back home, » said Tyaranini.

He added that the upward surge in the number of people who rely on cell phones as their medium of communication meant an increase in airtime vending. « Mobile penetration in Africa currently stands at around 67% which literally means that there is constant need for airtime in order to keep dialogue going. As a result of that demand, my partner and I have created that platform to help people stay connected by instantly sending airtime wherever they are to their family and friends mobile phones.”

Growth prospects look bright

Senditoo’s fund-raising plans are further buoyed by the presence of a significant number of investors looking to the African market as the “new frontier” and seeking out viable opportunities to invest in. A research conducted by start-ups portal Disrupt Africa, tech start-ups on the continent received a total amount of funding in excess of $185,7 million in 2015.

Soumano stated that their growth has been evidenced by the development of their own API which makes it more conducive: « We have become a stronger brand providing faster service. It is now just a matter of seconds for you to recharge the mobile phone credit of your loved ones who may be hundreds of kilometers away. The new API allows Senditoo to develop new business to business partnerships.”

Driven by the sheer desire to utilize technology to provide practical solutions to society’s problems, Senditoo has undoubtedly found an exciting way of keeping the conversation flowing for many Diasporas and their loved ones.


Author: Farai Diza // Photo : Takwana Tyaranini  © Senditoo

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