Can you introduce yourself ? Please briefly sketch the stages of your life to become an entrepreneur.
My name is Samy MWAMBA, software engineer, CEO and co-founder of itotafrica.com and holder of the blog www.samymwamba.com. From the age of 12 I discovered that I had some talents, especially in music and writing. I first touched a computer at the age of 11 in a cyber cafe at my college (Tutazamie College Likasi). Fascinated by this machine and especially the internet, I decided to use the latter every day and it was worth 100 FC for 10 minutes. At the age of 15, I had to win 300,000 FC thanks to a song I had written and sung for an NGO and some shows. With this money, I bought my first computer and it allowed me to put into practice everything I had learned about Microsoft Office and Photoshop. It was in the first year of my graduate studies that I discovered computer programming. Browsing a dozen books and a bunch of tutorials on the latter I could be good enough to sell my first software tray 2 and it is from my first sale that I decided to make a living by creating and selling software.
What made you start entrepreneurship?
3 years ago, when I was still a student, a group of some students recruited me to develop some software. The software was sold to businesses and individuals. After some failures we separated and I found myself alone to render certain services to individuals, to freelance.
Tell us about your product: what year did you launch it? Where did you get the idea for this product? Who do you send this product to? Did you do a market research before to find out if it would work? How many employees did you start with, and how many do you use today?
In 2017, we launched ITOTAFRICA, a community of the most talented young computer scientists in Lubumbashi, students, students and professionals, in order to share our knowledge through trainings and conferences, and also to work together on some digital community solutions including WALIMAJI which is a platform that optimizes the agri-food market. ITOTAFRICA subsequently became a provider of IT services (software design, networks and IT security).
With or without market research what we do with love and passion always works, this is our case. But on some other internal projects we do market research, but what the study of the market says is only a study, sometimes it works, sometimes it does not work. I have no employees, only collaborators and associates.
Do you have a mentor, a model? Did you have a business model or were you inspired by someone who also excelled in entrepreneurship with the same product?
Having a quality workforce for digital works is our concern. To have this workforce, we opted for a pedagogy such as that of the school 42, peer-to-peer learning, a participative operation that allows students to release all their creativity through project-based learning. We are addressing the problem of the lack of developers and IT security managers in Africa. We were also inspired by open classrooms but also by Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook and many other people.
Do you have one or more associates? How did you choose them and convince them to join you in your activity?
I obviously have associates, people who share the same vision as me, “only we go faster but many we go further”. My associates are extraordinary people, everyone is a specialist in a specific field.
How do you define: entrepreneurship and a contractor? What should be the vision of an entrepreneur?
Entrepreneurship is all the actions that contribute to the development and evolution of a company.
An entrepreneur is someone who knows that doing business involves taking risks and decides to go ahead anyway.
Having a good entourage must be the vision of any entrepreneur, having an association or grouping of real individual persons and / or other companies, each of which provides some form of capital. This group has a common purpose or a common center, usually the goal of generating profits.
What difficulties / problems did you encounter at the beginning and what do you encounter today? Did you have any fears that at some point blocked you or made you want to quit? Among other things, was the business climate in the DRC favorable or unfavorable to your business and how did you manage the situation?
Fear has become for me a source where I draw energy. Wanting to create digital solutions as big as Spotify, Facebook or Paypal is the dream field in the DRC. Of course I’m scared from time to time but it also shows me that my ambitions are great, it’s a good thing, and I prefer to have dreams than to live without. God knew why he created several climates, several seasons, the business climate in the DRC does not favor and does not disadvantage, what entrepreneurs need is the ability to adapt to this climate and that’s what we we do.
Are your customers satisfied? What are your strategies for continually developing your business?
We have several categories of customers: those who do not know what they want, those who have a budget of 200,000 FC but who want a solution that requires 1,000,000FC. The fact is that not all our customers are 100% satisfied, not because of us but because of themselves. But all our customers who know what they want are always satisfied. Providing quality service in a timely manner is our strategy to continually develop our business.
Do you consider entrepreneurship a good or bad adventure?
I see entrepreneurship as a dangerously good adventure with lots of risks and opportunities to take.
What does the notion of risk in entrepreneurship represent for you?
Adverse events that occur on the way to an achievement.
What qualities should an entrepreneur have?
- The ability to form a good team
- The ability to take risks
- The ability to acquire the necessary knowledge for the evolution of the company.
How do you organize your entrepreneurial day? How many hours a day or a week or a month do you devote to your business? What are you doing to continually motivate and motivate your employees?
In addition to being an entrepreneur, I also have a private life, a family and relatives who are not necessarily my clients or my associates but who count enough for me to answer their messages first and write them before throwing my eyes in my emails and other work-related messages each morning. Task priority is an important part of planning my day. I work 8 hours a day for ITOTAFRICA. Some days, especially when I work on the design of a software I can go up to 16 hours and the other hours I devote to other activities.
Between associates and collaborators we are motivated. Generally, it’s the love of what we do that motivates us the most, I did not choose a team at random, my team is extraordinary and it does not need to be motivated by me but by the greatness of the vision we share.
Do you feel like you are moving or regressing in your business?
I am in a continual evolution.
What advice would you give to a novice entrepreneur that you yourself would have liked to have: from an organizational point of view, efficiency …
Choosing a team is worth the 90% of the work towards success, so make the right choice.
A dream is worth 1000 pounds on personal motivation. Take 1 day or 1 year of reflection before giving up yours.
Money is not a taboo, you need to know if your organization is a non-profit organization, an NGO or something else.
What are your expectations, ambitions and future prospects as an entrepreneur? What do you expect from your product, your business?
Make ITOTAFRICA a great training company in new technologies and a great developer of digital solutions in the DRC and Africa.