Retailers, and particularly small informal shopkeepers, are the lifeblood of Africa’s economies. Ghana-based startup Sumundi provides easy-to-use point-of-sale and inventory management software for small shops. The company was founded in 2018. Co-founder Awura Abena Amponsah (23) answers our questions.
1. Give us your elevator pitch.
Sumundi exists to help retailers start, run and grow their businesses by first getting them to keep proper records and capitalising on those records to get them the resources they need. Resources such as delivery logistics, financing and supplies.
2. How did you finance your startup?
The first 18 months of starting up was really challenging for us but this gave us lots of experience. We bootstrapped with the initial revenue that came from our early customers. Family and friends also played a major role. We recently received an investment from GreenTec Capital Partners and they have been extremely supportive in helping us grow the company.
3. If you were given $1 million to invest in your company now, where would it go?
A $1 million investment into Sumundi will really accelerate us on the path of achieving the goals we have set for the next three to five years. Aside from amplifying our publicity in our current market, we will invest most of the funds into exploring new markets across the continent and expanding our product line and services. We will also invest in significantly improving our capacity to serve our customers more efficiently and promptly.
4. What risks does your business face?
Competition risk, or what we choose to call “comfort” risk. The biggest risk a startup may face when it takes the ecosystem approach is becoming so comfortable with their success and the status quo that they don’t look for ways to pivot or make continual improvements after becoming a business leader.
5. So far, what has proven to be the most successful form of marketing?
There are multiple marketing channels we keep experimenting with. Each channel has its own pros and cons, but over time, we have observed that the traditional sales approach yields a lot more results and feedback. Our customers mostly prefer to conduct business with us in person, especially to establish trust.
6. Describe your most exciting entrepreneurial moment.
My most exciting entrepreneurial moment is when we raised an investment from GreenTec Capital. It really meant a lot to me as it felt like all our past hard work and effort was beginning to pay off. It also gave us the opportunity to even work harder at fulfilling all our objectives for Sumundi.
7. Tell us about your biggest mistake.
In our attempt to make our products affordable, we badly underpriced and it took a while for us to recover from this. Notwithstanding, we still consistently work hard at reducing the switching costs of our products for our customers.
8. In addition to your own industry, identify an untapped business opportunity in Africa.
I believe strongly that there is a lot of untapped business opportunities in real estate. Access to affordable housing especially is a really big issue in our part of the world. It’s terribly hard for the low-to-mid income earner to find a budget-friendly yet decent place to live. Innovation in the affordable housing industry should include the restructuring of payment terms: clearly differentiating between a rent and a lease.
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