‘Meet the Boss’ is a How we made it in Africa interview series, where we pose the same 10 questions to business leaders across the continent.
Kamal Budhabhatti, CEO, Craft Silicon
1. What was your first job?
When I moved to Kenya I worked for a company in the polythene sector. I was doing data entry. On the side I got an opportunity to help a friend of mine who wanted me to develop some modules for his bank. When my employer found out about this he had me deported back to India. Having realised the possible opportunities in Kenya I came back and started Craft Silicon.
2. Who has had the biggest impact on your career and why?
My parents have been very supportive. The customers who believed in me when I started out were influential in our growth and success. Thanks to them we are where we are today. My staff has also helped me to deliver what is expected of us.
3. What parts of your job keep you awake at night?
The market is very competitive and therefore we have to be innovative to remain relevant. This is what I think about a lot, how to stay ahead and innovation is the key to this.
4. What are the top reasons why you have been successful in business?
I like to focus on long term goals. This is because when you write software it takes a fairly long time before it starts generating returns. I also think passion, integrity, having a transparent culture and innovation have played a critical role. I have always ensured that my team love their work.
5. What are the best things about Kenya?
Kenyans are very tech-savvy. People are open to new innovations and generally love technology. I think Kenya is a good testing ground for new technologies.
6. And the worst?
Sometimes after salary day we forget about everything and just blow things up.
7. Your future career plans?
To ensure I learn all the techniques to grow my company. By 2020 we hope to be a US$500 million company.
8. How do you relax?
I enjoy long drives to Naivasha. The scenery is just magnificent. I also like to play with my daughter.
9. What is your message to Africa’s young aspiring business people and entrepreneurs?
They should stay focused and deliver value for money and success will come as a by-product. They should not look at short term goals and ditch the ‘get rich quick’ mentality. To be successful, a long term strategy is inevitable.
10. How can Africa realise its full potential?
Africans must believe in Africans. We tend to buy products from the Western world and their companies and do not support local brands. We are always overshadowed by foreigners. For instance, we export most of our software because local companies either do not believe in local brands or are just resistant to local innovations.
Kamal Budhabhatti is the founder and CEO of Craft Silicon, a provider of software solutions to financial and insurance institutions in more than 40 countries. Craft Silicon won the $100,000 grand prize at the 2010 Africa Awards for Entrepreneurship.