“We have to adapt to change as quickly as possible. Those who adapt to change are those who are going to survive.” — Julian Kyula
Julian Kyula, 39, founded and runs Mobile Decisioning Africa (MoDe) in Nairobi. The company, launched in 2010, holds a niche in the mobile money market — nanofinance.
Kyula describes nanofinance as the lending of very small amounts of money, say 20 dollars or pounds. “At any time of the day, someone in the world is in desperate need of a very small amount of money,” says Kyula, whose expertise is in business development. He says the concept of nanofinance “started in Africa, then came out to the world. Most of the time it’s the other way around.”
“Our aim is to make sure that those that don’t necessarily have banks or banking relationships, or even if they do, are able to access minimum amounts of cash,” he explains. Having expanded the business to nearly 20 markets, Kyula wants to make MoDe a global company.
Kyula suggests that given the current environment of constant change, entrepreneurs should experiment with new concepts. He thinks that students and entrepreneurs should try out new ideas and concepts. “Change is the only constant thing in life.”
“Dealing with the dynamics of a startup is a challenge,” he says. Yet he acknowledges that it is also rewarding. “It’s an amazing thing to create [a venture] because you are experimenting.”
The entrepreneur, who left business school before graduating, embraces failure as a learning tool. “Everyone has failure,” he notes. “Build resilience. You have to bounce back.”
Asked if he encountered hurdles in building his business, Kyula says: “It was very tough. We learned some very major lessons,” like finding people with the right skills.
“You’ve got to make sure that you customize yourself for the region that you are in and be very smart in business,” he adds. “People would start to ask, ‘Are you really capable of carrying out such a business?’ We were lucky to demystify those concerns through large companies we were already working with.”
Kyula, who founded Quest Holdings before starting MoDe, advises young people to immediately put their ideas to work.
“Don’t wait 10 or 15 years after school to start your dream. … Go for it. Don’t let money stop you. Don’t let anything stop you. If you can create and innovate, money will find you.”