Onesha’s content development manager had a quick chat with Roy Njoka, Vice President, Partnerships & Digital Financial Services at MarketForce Technologies.
1. If you were to describe yourself in a tweet, how would you describe yourself?
I am a dreamer who believes in working hard to create my own fairy-tale ending; and I do so every day as a husband, father, son, friend, founder, biker, and budding golfer.
2.MarketForce wants to build the retail Operating system for Africa, what does that mean in a layman’s language?
In simple terms, our mission is to bring kiosks in Africa into the digital economy. We do this through our RejaReja mobile app that allows kiosks to receive digital payments (such as mobile money), resell digital services (such as prepaid tokens and airtime), and order stock for delivery direct to their shop within 24 hours.
3.As a VP at MarketForce, what exactly do you do at this fast-growing Rocketship?
My job is to empower my team to do the best job possible. My team and I take care of partnerships for our RejaReja Platform; enterprise sales for our MarketForce One salesforce automation solution; digital financial services (DFS) strategy, and overall brand marketing.
4.You Joined MarketForce through the acquisition of your FinTech startup, Digiduka, what brought about this fast growth at Digiduka that led to its acquisition?
Yes indeed, at Digiduka our focus was on delivering digital payments solutions for the informal retail segment, and we grew quite quickly over just one year in the market.
My co-founder and I therefore felt that our mission was already well aligned to that of MarketForce. the transition has been quite seamless.
5.Could you give our audience a glimpse of how Digiduka came to be part of Marketforce
I would consider it more of a marriage than a sale! That said, it was a very simple transaction, that started with a mutual introduction on WhatsApp, followed by a conversation over coffee. This was proceeded by an exchange of term sheets, and due diligence documents – the details of which I won’t bore you with – but it was all concluded within two weeks.
6.One of your roles at MarketForce is maintaining strong relationships with manufacturers, distributors, and financial service providers, what role do you see digital media playing in helping you achieve your objectives?
We are a young startup, and as such we must work harder than our more mature counterparts in the industry to cement our credentials as an innovative and reliable go-to-market partner for last mile retail distribution in Africa. We lean on digital media to tell our story and that of our partners’ successes. For example, we are particularly proud of the work we did for Maisha Beverages who manufacture the “Hola” challenger brand of soft drinks, and who have seen significant uptake of their products since joining our B2B marketplace platform.
7.You lead customer acquisition for the MarketForce SaaS business, give us punchlines for customer acquisition channels that work best for this type of business model.
Our software is designed to help businesses track, guide, and empower their sales teams to deliver on their sales targets. My job is delivering this message to our customers and reseller partners in the simplest, most compelling way, and this forms my key consideration when choosing a customer acquisition channel.
7.When you sit down to develop a marketing strategy for MarketForce, what are your top rituals to making your strategy work?
Be immersed in the problem/opportunity – like a good doctor, a good marketer must talk to the patient and draw out the insights behind the opportunity or problem that requires a marketing intervention. I regularly talk to my retail and enterprise teams as well as partners, to better understand the products, we are selling. The marketing team and I are also regularly in the market talking to retailers and customers to understand their needs from a marketing comms perspective.
Be flexible to change – like Mike Tyson once said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth”, so my principle is a plan is only as good as it’s adaptability to change based on the prevailing market conditions – especially so our fast-paced world of FMCG startups.
Be thorough in execution – I always say that marketing is both an art, and a science; with the science being led by the traditional segmentation, targeting and positioning (STP) decisions that drives the executional elements such as product (solution), price (value), place (access device) and promotion (customer education).
Being thorough in your execution is in not forgetting to always stay true to your marketing strategy while tying it closely to the marketing output. A good example is that we ensure our app is accessible to our all our retailers (the target market), by making it backward compatible with the kind of low-end Android devices they would typically have (access device).
Tesh Mbaabu and Mesongo Sibuti founded MarketForce in 2018. The founders wanted to solve the fragmentation issue they noticed among small retail shops and their distribution networks. In addition, these shops are often used as points for offering financial services to the everyday Kenyan. Thus, MarketForce’s play enables the optimized distribution of FMCG goods and financial services through this network of agents.
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