Zimbile taps into Africa’s mobile techno growth

2013-04-14 14:00

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

With the explosion in mobile users in Africa, businesses are looking to trade online, Zimbile is plugging that gap. Lloyd Gedye reports.

With each passing day, it becomes clearer that mobile is the leapfrog technology for Africa when it comes to the internet.

The continent is forecast to have a billion mobile subscribers by 2015, according to analysts Informa Telecoms & Media.

Considering that the number of subscribers was 16?million in 2000, the year when mobile overtook fixed-line subscribers, this growth is impressive.

What this means is that a lot of business is going to take place online, in the mobile space, something Zimbabwean Simon Kaguramba realised.

This realisation led to Zimbile, an innovative website that allows businesses and individuals across Africa to build fast-loading mobile websites in minutes.

It is afree website and users don’t need to have any html (a mark-up language for creating web pages) coding knowledge in order to get their mobile website up and running.

Kaguramba (33) said: “Zimbile as we know it was born in July 2011 as a pivot from a previous business idea in the mobile internet space.

“The motivation came from the realisation that there was an explosion of internet usage across Africa. However, there were very few local websites that were mobile ready.”

He added: “Also, there was an obvious disconnect between local content or business information and the consumers of that content.

By that I mean the local content out there was available on non-mobile friendly websites, so it could not be consumed by the average mobile user.

“The goal was to build Zimbile in a way that anyone could build and publish a basic mobile website within minutes without all the hassles of setting up software, domain names and hosting.”

When Kaguramba started building Zimbile, he had just moved back to Zimbabwe having lived and worked in the UK for more than 10 years as a website software developer.

He said: “In that time, I saw how the West had been transformed and had become superefficient by engaging the web as a business tool. I could only hope the same for my country and the rest of Africa.”

Zimbile has since reached 98 countries, with 10% of them outside Africa.

“We seem to be very popular in countries like India and the Philippines,” he said, adding that in Africa, Nigeria, South Africa and Zimbabwe have the bulk of Zimbile’s users.

“Up to half of our customers are businesses of some sort, ranging from accounting firms in Namibia, borehole drilling companies in Nigeria, mobile-accessory retailers in Kenya, how-to guides in South Africa and churches in Zimbabwe,” said Kaguramba.

The business began as a service targeting large corporations in Zimbabwe, but the buy-in was poor.

It was only after Kaguramba opened it to everyone and focused it on mobile websites that things began to turn around.

Zimbile now has thousands of clients and it continues to grow.

It links with social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Google+, and allows the user to exploit these channels to market their business or work.

Kaguramba explained that while simplicity was initially the most important element of the website’s design, he now has users requesting extra functionality.

He said: “I had built the minimum viable product, tested the market and was yet to discover how I would make money from Zimbile.

“Speaking to more established customers about their needs, pains as well as additional functionality helped me develop the next version of Zimbile, which is currently in beta and about to be officially launched.

“Over the years, I have learnt that customers will pay for you to solve their pain as opposed to offering a nice-to-have product or service.”

And while Zimbile goes from strength to strength, Kaguramba has other plans on the horizon.

“Before the middle of this year, we plan to launch our new online start-up hub which will enable anyone willing to learn to earn money by

building Zimbile mobile websites for local businesses, corporates, not-for-profit (non-governmental organisations), charities and more,” he said.

“Through the hub, we plan to develop and train young people to get into mobile development while earning money. What’s exciting is that this venture will bring together my key passions, which are teaching entrepreneurship and web technology design.”

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.