Godfrey: technology transformation (Zambia)

Godfrey

In the Nyumba Yanga community on the other side of the city, 55 year old Godfrey Mulenga could never be more proud of his association with the Coca Cola brand.

Like many other distributers, he starts his day early and often serves his customers until it gets dark. “The local bottling company has given me a good life,” he says, heaping praises at the local Coke supplier. “You can say I am where I am today because of Coca Cola. I am happy to have built something from the ground up which has helped me to educate my children. Right now I have a son in university and I hope that he will come out and help me to make this bigger” he says, gesturing a reverse hug. He notes that two of his other children have also completed tertiary education, both benefitting from the proceeds of his micro distribution centre (MDC) business.

Despite his enthusiasm, Godfrey laments that the high interest rates charged by financial institutions is the greatest handicap to the growth of the business, which he started in 2006. “Finance…money is needed in business. It is hard to grow without good funding. That’s why I feel like the Zoona guys understand small business people like me.” Godfrey explains that he has accessed financing from two micro finance institutions in the past but found the rates to be too excessive. “I survived, and when I was done paying back, I did not go back. It was too expensive and almost left me handicapped.”

In September 2012, Godfrey received $3,000 in working capital support from Zoona to help grow his Coke sales. Since receiving the funds, he has seen a 35% increase in stock holding capacity. He says that Zoona’s working capital “came at the right time.” “It is very flexible and the terms of payment are very affordable compared to those of micro finance institutions. Because of this, I am left with more money to put back into the business which allows me to grow,” he adds.

And how does he feel about Zoona’s electronic payment platform? “It’s a good thing…the best thing about it is that it saves me time. Now I don’t need to go to the bottling company to make my payments so I have more time to spend at my business and with my family.”

A late adopter of technology, Godfrey readily admits that he was initially reluctant to embrace Zoona’s proprietary payments platform because of poor customer service he received from a competitor payment system. However, as he quickly points out, “Zoona has more than lived up to my expectations. The system is easy to use, simple to under stand and once you get that text message, you know that the bottling company won’t be calling you about a payment. I will never go back to paying with cash!”

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