Listen: Nairobi-based entrepreneur on starting a business with your own money

Audrey Cheng, founder and CEO of Nairobi-based Moringa School

This week’s Finding Impact Podcast (FIP) features Audrey Cheng, founder and CEO of Moringa School, a training institution for software developers, based in Nairobi, Kenya.

FIP is a weekly series where Andy Narracott (@AndyNarracott) has conversations with people moving the needle in social enterprise. Each episode discusses strategy, tactics and practical advice to help you build your own venture.

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Many start-ups seek investment or grants to fund their operations. But Cheng, who previously worked at early-stage investor Savannah Fund, decided to bootstrap Moringa School by using her own money, particularly during the first few years. In this (slightly-edited) excerpt, she explains the reasons for following this route.

“What I realised pretty early on, especially when I was working as an investor, was that a lot of companies seek funding too early. Essentially a lot of entrepreneurs were giving up huge chunks of their companies because they either weren’t showing enough traction, or they didn’t have as many customers… I was realising that a lot of these early-stage investors weren’t giving good deals.

“What I wanted to do was to prove that our solution is something that the market wants. I mean grants are fantastic, but a lot of the times, these grants are more distracting than helping an entrepreneur find focus.

“I wanted to build a company… where people actually pay for our services, and only raise money when we are ready to start scaling. We haven’t raised money until this date, because we’ve been really iterating on our service over time, and making sure we are delivering the highest-quality service that we can. And now that we are starting to grow, we are actually looking to raise money. But again, we have a huge focus on just building a real business.”

Listen to the full interview through the media player above.