FOUNDER OF PEZESHA, HILDA MORAA SHARES CAREER ADVICE ON HOW TO BUILD A THRIVING TECH COMPANY AS A WOMAN
Hilda Moraa is a Kenyan fintech entrepreneur. She is the founder and CEO of Pezesha, a peer-to-peer micro-lending marketplace for Africa that provides access to affordable financial services and credit scores to low-income borrowers. She previously founded Weza Tele, which in 2015 became on the first African tech startups to be acquired by another business. In 2016, she was named one of the 30 Most Promising Young African Entrepreneurs by Forbes.
On Building a Tech Business she says: Focusing on your strength and getting the right people to do the work is key. For her, technology is just an enabler and although it brings efficiency and innovation, it’s not the business. She goes further to say: ‘You don’t necessarily have to have technology skills to be a tech entrepreneur. The key thing is putting the right processes and structures in place and, most importantly, building the right team to execute the vision. In startups, it’s 100% about people. Even though I have the tech skills, it doesn’t mean that I am the best at it. I had to find people who do the tech part even better than me so I could focus on my strengths, which are business development and strategy. Technology keeps changing and tech businesses are very dynamic so you need passionate people who not only have the skills but are willing to breathe the vision and walk with you to the summit.’
On how to approach doubts raised by clients as a woman in the Tech Business: Hilda’s approach is pretty simple. She is of the opinion that every client is given a trial stage, where are abilities are tried and this has constantly worked for her. ‘My approach for overcoming their doubts was to ask for smaller pilot opportunities so my team and I could prove our ability to execute before committing to larger projects. This approach worked and in the end, we were able to convince clients of the value of our solutions because our execution spoke for itself.’
Finally, she advised that startups should avoid bringing friends and family into their businesses: Unless they are passionate about what you do as well. ‘In the startup environment, with all the uncertainty and limited resources, you really need people who are passionate to be able to push through. Running a startup is challenging and you don’t always have the funding to keep people incentivised. In the end, they left because they wanted more stable jobs and careers, and I don’t blame them because, ultimately, any business needs to build up the resources to develop and retain talent. I had to get mentors to help me put this foundation in place. These mistakes have taught me a lot for my second venture and now I am able to consider these issues and set the right foundation from the start.’
Hilda who has always loved mathematics and physics discovered her interest in entrepreneurship during her student days in Strathmore University in Kenya where she studied business and information technology. To her creating an impact in the tech world is her life purpose and she hopes to create a real, lasting impact that will be felt for generations to come.