Kenyan tech entrepreneur sees opportunity back home

He adds that existing technology information gaps among businesses are also a big challenge.

“Corporate firms don’t quite understand how to effectively use digital media to improve their business. There is still a lot of education gaps [and] technology gaps between the users and the customers that we serve.”

Salamba’s ultimate goal is to run a leading regional digital company, but in the meantime his focus is on maintaining gradual growth and building a strong brand.

“I am not looking at having VCs to invest in me so that I can have all the money and hire whoever I want. I need space to create, figure out my journey and focus on the direction I want to take. The good thing about being an SME is that you can see the growth, you can easily make changes and do research on consumer patterns and behaviour. All this gets me on the path to becoming a leading digital company in the region.”

Salamba urges other technology entrepreneurs to focus on simplicity to be able to reach the masses, not just the elite in cities.

“The genius of Microsoft and Google is that they made it a lot simpler for an ordinary person to use their services.”

Entrepreneurs should also ditch the “instant millionaire mentality”.

“I think the biggest mistake we are making right now, especially in technology is the impatience,” says Salamba. “People want the million dollar deal today. We have to be patient, build the local industry, have a workable plan, get the right partnerships, be consistent and find people you can work with here and in outside markets.”

He adds that young emerging entrepreneurs should look beyond coding and beef up the business development side of their startups.

“The young entrepreneurs in university are doing well but my issue with them is on the process of building a sustainable business. If you look at [at the founders of Microsoft] Bill Gates and Paul Allen, you will see that they were successful because they focused not just on the tech but on the business as well. Yes, we should be good at the coding but we also need people to enhance the business development side of things.”

Salamba says he is optimistic technology alongside other industries will prosper in the continent in coming years. Africa, he says, is taking the path of Brazil and India which transformed their economies two decades ago.

“We are getting there and that is why it is so exiting to be back home and to do business in Africa.”

Salamba explains that with the improving business environment and with immense opportunities for growth in various sectors, now is the best time for African migrants to come back home.

“When people left Kenya in the 1990s, the country was basically dead, no houses were being constructed, no roads were being made and today we are sitting at Java (a homegrown leading coffee chain) with all these people in here. So much has changed in the last decade. People in the diaspora should come back home before it all goes and they become the foreigners. Things are changing quite fast.”