Zambian mobile money startup closes US $4 million Series A investment

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 So what are you meant to think when you start a business with your brother in 2007 and at the start of 2012, you are part of a committed team of 25 employees that close a $ 4 million deal with three world class international fund. Seriously, (four million dollars, thirty two million rand, twenty billion kwacha) for an “African/Zambian” IT start up business

These are the words of Mobile Transactions International co-founder, Brad Magrath, whose startup has made history in Zambian by closing a US $4 million ‘Series A’ funding round this week. The investment will bring in close to $3 million of new cash into from US based philanthropic investment firm Omidyar Network and a non-profit organization ACCION Invest. The additional $1 million is debt converted into equity from Mennonite Economic Development Association (MEDA).

Pushing a ‘Cashless Africa’ vision, the Zambian mobile money startup has developed a proprietary integrated switching technology to enable companies to transact with their unbanked and unconnected customers with the help an agent network across the country.

Mobile Transactions International was founded in 2007 by Brad and his brother Brett initially as a solution for Dunavant (the largest cotton company in Zambian) to make mobile payments to cotton farmers.

You can read the full press release on the funding here.



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16 Comments

  1. Prosper Chikomo

    Just proves what i have been saying all along on Techzim to the chagrin of many okes who joomla. http://www.techzim.co.zw/2012/02/the-changing-face-of-the-web-development-industry/

    Code is what gets you ahead, full stop!

    I even said it; how can you expect a major US VC to fund you to the tune of millions for something anyone can replicate using a CMS and plugins.

    I would urge anyone who really wants to make millions on the internet or from software to learn how to write code. Code is what made millionaires and billionaires out of Zuckerberg (FB), Marc Andreseen (Netscape/Mozilla), Larry Page and Sergey Brin (Google), Jerry yang (Yahoo), Herma Heunis (Mxit).

    All these people created something original and unique, and knew how to code.

    Now some folks here claim there is “no need to reinvent the wheel”, just joomla it.

    That is fine, just depends on how successful you want to get. Even Bill Gates wrote code, demonstrated that it worked and hit the big time. CODE!

    Some even claim that there is no VC capital in Africa because of sanctions etc like the article posted yesterday. http://www.techzim.co.zw/2012/03/you-can-build-a-startup-in-africa-heres-how/ I dare say create something unique and see if you will not get investors.

    Econet has been getting millions of dollars in funding over the past 10 years while so-called sanctions exist. Even mining companies like Zimplats have got funding to the tune of millions from abroad. You may say zimplats is big but when Zimplats came in, it was just paperwork. They got funding later and continue to get it because they vale a value proposition – something the investor can expect a return on investment from.

    The Zambian guys are doing a really wonderful thing. i mean, right now the big thing in Africa, especially thanks to Kenya’s M-Pesa is mobile money transfer. These guys certianly “saw the wave” and are “riding it to the shore”. Even Visa and Mastercard are now rushing into the Africa + developed-countries mobile payments market, later than Africans themselves. Last year Visa bought a South African mobile payments company called Fundamo for $110m in cash. You can read about it at http://techcrunch.com/2011/06/09/visa-acquires-mobile-financial-services-company-fundamo-for-110m-in-cash/

    And now Mastercard entered into a mobile money partnership with MTN.

    In all these cases, there was original coding and not a cms+plugins job.

    I can give the example of YouTube. Right from day one, YouTube never made any money. it was just popular. bandwidth costs were massive. but it was a time when “user generated content” and “social networks” were the buzz. Because it grew membership to millions, even though unprofitable (and many other reasons i wont mention for brevity), they were bought by Google for $1,5 billion, even though youTube had never turned a profit.

    And so it is with our Zambian brothers. Mobile payments are a big hit, and they are riding the wave. Who knows, if they keep at it and getting better, they could later be bought by a major global financial institution like HSBC or Mastercard etc for billions of dollars, far more than their newsmaking $4m.

    And it is such opportunities that VCs look for as it makes part of an exit strategy. YouTube was funded by VCs (Sequoia for one) and when it was bought by Google, those VCs got paid.

    Many “tech” Zimbabweans will politicize their own inability to (1) write code, and (2) their lack of business acumen, and say sanctions are the reason why there is no big hit, even a one-hit wonder in zimbabwe. How sad. We definitely need a new and higher level of ambition.

    Oh yeah, i am a writer, so don’t bother asking me why i dont code. (lol)

    Indeed you can make money using opensource software like joomla. Why, even the Huffington Post is worth millions, and got millions in VC funding, yet it is powered by open source software, but in my opinion, the ability to code your own work and have those skills yourself are a major competitive advantage and that is what most VCs look for when they analyse your business plan. Coding the whole thing also makes it easier for you to innovate and pout new interesting features etc.

    Reply
    1. Tapiwa ✔

      I know you’re a writer, but you do know that Joomla is merely a Content Management System and not a platform, right? Also, there’s a lot more to applications development than just writing code, before anyone thinks learning to code is the ticket to printing money (it’s not).

      Reply
      1. Tshumal

        so wat do you think is buddie? Prosper Chikomo has a point, you need to be original and have a unique value proposition in order to succeed in Software/App development, and studying and mastering atleast one  programming language is a good starting point, of  which we dont hv that many developers in Zim, maybe a good starting point for us will be to have developer workshops fully focused on impacting programming language skills like C++, Python, Java, PHP, J2ME ect to so called developers and stop this nonsense of having people win a dev contest using Joomla & all those other CMSs, it wont get us anywhere as a nation. 

        Reply
        1. Tapiwa ✔

          I disagree with the idea that we don’t have many developers in Zim. I haven’t seen any evidence of that. If anything, I think we lack opportunities for local developers (our industry would rather import software from India/SA)

          Being original and having a ‘unique value proposition’ does not imply doing everything from scratch. I recommend that you read the cogent argument provident by @tinmann:disqus below, he already said a lot of what I intended to say here, with more detail and patience.

          stop this nonsense of having people win a dev contest using Joomla & all those other CMSs

          I’m blindly assuming that you’re referring to the ZOL Startup Challenge? Un/fortunately, it wasn’t a dev contest but a – how do I put this – a startup challenge. There is a very important distinction (dev contests would be something like topcoder or Code Jam). The startup challenge, IMO, was about solutions, ideas and how you execute your ideas. I think the takeaway should be that the technology doesn’t matter – the solution does.

           It’s very important for a startup to be able to rapidly prototype their solution. Leveraging  Joomla (or any FOSS technology) to achieve this should be no-brainer. Twitter started out or Ruby on Rails (great at rapid prototyping), got funding & a solid user base popular. Unfortunately RoR doesn’t scale very well (or didn’t for them), so they switched to a Java backend. What I’m trying to get at is that it’s important fort a startup to be able to rapidly build & evaluate the product. To rag on RoR as worthless is being grossly irresponsible (RoR being a metaphor for Joomla, in literary terms)

          Reply
          1. Tapiwa ✔

             Which part of my post exactly are you correcting – or did you mean to reply someone else in the thread?

          2. Prosper Chikomo

             

            I disagree with the idea that we don’t have many developers in Zim. Ihaven’t seen any evidence of that. If anything, I think we lack opportunities for local developers (our industry would rather import software from India/SA)

            There are many Zimbabwean programmers I can list who have created or are involved in large scale software applications development, but they are all abroad. In one very high profile case, their software product is now coming into Zimbabwe from abroad. I could really go on and on but what would be the point?
            The simple truth is that there is a massive MASSIVE! CODING SKILLS SHORTAGE IN ZIMBABWE, VERY VERY MASSIVE!
            For anyone to deny that is laughable and utter rubbish!
            And here’s the reason why there is coding skills shortage.
            Before it became about your money, the only way you could learn coding was to get like, 15 A’level points, from science subjects (Math, Physics, and Chemistry), for you to do Computer science at a local university, which only took less than 100 computer science students annually. The degree takes 4 years at most.
            Other option was to go to a polytechnic, which would take you like 7 years going through the boring annual and semi-annual steps till HND level.
            There is no government-owned institution (affordable) that offered part-time programming courses, or even short-courses.
            Private colleges that taught programming were, and still are, very few, and expensive for many. You have NIIT in Avondale(from India) for one.
            Learning computers itself was a priviledge for just the first class in many primary, secondary, and high schools, if not even available.
            In the end the country has a huge shortage of coding skills.
            in India, the teaching of mathematics and science subjects were emphasised from early schooling years and mathematics was not taught the way it is taught in Zimbabwe where it is all theory. I remember an Indian guy, a son of an expartiate from India who could do differential equations in Form 2, something you find only at A’level in Zimbabwe. The way mathematics is taught in Zimbabwe hardly makes a mathematician of even the dullest person you can find. If you teach mathematics and science with plenty of examples and make the subjects enjopyable, you will in no timer have a very wide pool of techies.
            If you expose kids to computers while they are young, you can have expert coders as young as 20. bill gates was exposed to computers when he was young and knew code by the time he was 18. Zuckerberg too. now, if you have someone seeing a computer for the first time at university, then what do you expect? Naturally if he finds Joomla he will be set (lol)And there are very very few universities/tertiary insitutions in Zimbabwe. in the UK, with 2 A’level points you can enetr a university and go on to become a top dog in the computing world.
            I will not bother to ask if by developer you mean a coder or just someone who joomlas because those who joomla are so so many!
            There is no such thing as:

            If anything, I think we lack opportunities for local developers (our industry would rather import software from India/SA)

            You will not lack an opportunity if you have a world-class product to show. With the reputation of Nigerians and 419 scams, many Zimbabwean banks are using a Nigerian product, why? Because apart from the massive skills shortages ion Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwean “developer” you talk about is very unimaginative. (Just like in “joomlaring”)
            I had a friend who did I.T. at a Zimbabwean polytechnic. He told me when it was project time, they were told in no uncertain terms that “payroll software” will not be accepted or even entertained. Why? Because that is all your so-called developers can think of.
            Everywhere you go everyone is selling a “indigenous” payroll system of some sort.
            Can’t your so-called developer think of anything unique and un-joomla like Mxit, M-Pesa, the product of our Zambian guys, whatsapp, etc.
            I have never heard of a Zimbabwean accounting software.
            In South Africa, Ivan Epstein started Softline, the creators of Pastel Accounting which is used by many busineses in Zimbabwe. Having started with just R1 500, and coding skills, on its listing on the JSE 11 years later (in 1997), Softline was valued at ZAR250 million (GBP 20 million). Softline was bought in 2003 by Sage, a huge UK software company for GBP 54,5 million.
            Pastel was coded by Softline and was owned lock-stock-and-barrel by Softline. This is what I am telling people, that joomlaring can make you US$250.00 per website but if you want to hit the big time, code your own software and make money from it, and please, at least be imaginative.
            Your so-called “developers’ need to start thinking outside their comfort zones.
            The Zambian guy (Brad) in a PDF on their site said Zimbabwe was their first export market. That means you are probably using it, maybe as Skwama or
            netone. Why is Zimbabwe importing software from Zambia if it had the skills you talk about? (lack of imagination could be one – “payroll software mentality”)
            At least so far I like Viral Suppressor. It is the only ‘non-payroll software” I know from Zimbabwe. It is not Avira or an anti-virus but it does the job beyond what some anti-virus software do. http://www.techzim.co.zw/2011/04/zimbabwe-startup-releases-first-beta-of-virus-protection-program/ I tried it and I laughed when it removed a pesky “folder” virus from my USB. lol
            However, it has what I would call a weak marketing strategy with a low price, and I don’t know why.
            At least those guys thought outside the box of payroll software. If all people see is payroll software, and many of poor quality, they will simply look to India and South Africa for solutions and overlook the Zimbabwean “developer”. And most of the poor quality software is a result of poor coding skills and get-rich-quick mentality – and those products, even though local, have extremely poor support.
            It gets worse when a Zimbabwean “developer” you talk about is known only for joomlaring, and worse still, those joomla sites are hacked 24/7 and get fixed after 12 months.
            What do you think that tells local customers about Zimbabwean “developers” you talk about?
            I think most people who joomla do not have the skills and/or imagination to code their own works and are even scared to think of developing something with as much code as joomla has.  Just the sight of one joomla PHP file is enough to scare them to death that they could never do something like that. Hence some of the vitriolic attacks i get here. (My point being that you make more money from owning the code of the software than using the software just like Bill gates is filthy rich and Windows users are not.) It is so sad that not even a simple original flash game, just to showcase some sort of initiative, has ever come out of Zimbabwe. And if it does, everyone will be convinced that it is an opensource game that has simply been removed the “powered by link” Until such time that Zimbabwean developers showcase stuff they made themselves and put it out there for the whole world to criticise and review, the zimbabwean developer will be know for nothing except joomlaring opensource software.

    2. tinm@n

      You need to remove yourself from your bad experiences from either using or seeing a solution/website implemented in Joomla. I assume you vent towards Joomla because it is the only FOSS CMS product that is within your scope/level of work. Let me tell you that every CMS or FOSS has its share of bad implementers or quick buck implementers. Do not be misled to then think that because you have seen soooo many bad implementations that there are no existing professionals(developers, designers, architects) who use the intended FOSS business model…even on Joomla

      Let me be patient, let me use my time. Let me tell you:

      You DONT ALWAYS have to write your own software!
      Facebook, Google, Yahoo all have their roots in FOSS. From their humble beginnings to their current contributions to the FOSS society. At all levels.

      Other times you actually BUY software! Google, with all its software engineers have used/use commercial software. They (and Facebook) maybe the biggest companies that thrived on opensource but it is a MYTH to believe that you ALWAYS have to write your own software.

      Building software is a decision you take when:

      – you cannot find what you are looking either in commercial or FOSS products

      – you have the capacity(human and financial) to support you own inhouse product. By support I mean at many levels including code maintenance and enhancements to stay competitive. For this you need good developers who are NOT EASY to find and retain (if they are that good). ALSO remember that you cannot own a business, write its software AND grow the business ALL BY YOURSELF! You’ll burn out or your project will wilt. As it grows, you will need to add human capacity.

      – you want absolute control on the development path of your product without having to rely on a community steered product like Joomla and any other brilliantly written Open Source solution.

      ————————

      Having to write your own software is influenced by so many factors.
      Giving you a demography we are all familiar with, Zimbabwe…and a product you THINK you understand, Joomla, I will cite an example. Here I am not talking about an implementer who downloaded an open source CMS product(Like Joomla, Drupal, Dotnetnuke…etc), installed a template, some modules and had a rush of pride after his/her “achievement”. I am talking about someone who can DEVELOP Joomla templates, can write modules, plugins or components according to client needs.

      Note these
      The Zim economy is still recovering.

      It is reasonable to understand that any (client) company trying to recover or start up within this (Zim) environment has limited funds.

      Marketing budgets, being misunderstood, usually suffer in company strategies.(bear in mind I am talking of a company/client recovering or trying to start up…the larger percentage of businesses)

      You meet with them. They say they cannot spend over, say $1000 on their website or web-based solution.Lets say the project involves the following business case it needs to solve:

      – has a user base controlled by the company
      – users login, upload a certain spreadsheet
      – it gets gets processed and a result is displayed or downloaded(as PDF) by the user for further use within the business

      Now you sit down and calculate your expenses (with that $1000 in mind). Let us suppose you are a freelancer working from home. Your operational expenses include electricity and internet. You then also need a salary(your income).

      Say you decide to write this software from scratch. From the problem statement you can pick up the following

      Userbase
      + database of users – Functional

      Login
      + authentication scheme – Functional
      + access control(no user sees another users data or sees what they are not supposed to see), also means security coding against current XSS, SQL Injection and buffer overflow attack vectors..at the most basic level – Non-functional
      + being session-aware so user does not have to re-login everytime they go away and revert back to the page(with reasonable timeout of course). This will be spread out through the whole system ofcourse
      Upload and processing

      + file filtering and checking (in case malicious files can be uploaded remember case ZSE) – Non functional
      + parser to read, verify and process the spreadsheet (each of these is a modular implementation of the functionality) – Functional
      + Output as displayed HTML and PDF(PDF being where more code will be done) – Functional

      AND You have to:

      Test(as you code, for user acceptance and penetration testing/vulnerability assessments)
      Train the trainer who is to train their user
      Finally implement it on a live environment
      Provide after-sales support for those bugs that prop up here and there, by their tradition

      So now, work out the time to do that, including the research you may embark on DOING ALL THINGS FROM SCRATCH. Noting that there are some non-functional requirements that are not part of the business case but are implied.

      Ideally, you should try to focus on the core functionality stated in the business case. But you will see that alot of time will be spent coding supporting/non-functional attributes.

      So what does the opensource scene offer you? Joomla, Drupal, Dotnetnuke, WordPress, Typo…already have well-written security, access control, database handling & abstracting and UI-building APIs. If you are a module/extension developer in anyone of those, then it stands to reason that you build upon their existing codebase. Unless some brain embolism denies you to reason proper. You will most likely halve the time you take developing and testing everything, bearing in mind that you have a deadline to deliver,may have other clients and you need to make a justifiable profit.

      Will leave you to think through that.

      ————————-

      Generally, you ask yourself these questions:

      What is the goal of the project I am tackling?

      Is writing your own software necessary for the problem?

      What are existing solutions (commecial or FOSS)?

      Can I (or the client) afford commercial ones?

      Can I use Joomla,Drupal, Typo, WordPress, ModX, Dotnetnuke…and so many other FOSS products?

      Does the client(if its a client) have an environment that supports it?

      If its a client solution,is the client opinionated over a particular product(influence being maybe an IT person who advises them that WordPress is the way to go)? – These are hard to sway.

      If its a client solution, can they pay you well enough for the solution if you did all the coding FROM SCRATCH?

      If it is my own business/service, do I need a totally new and unique code-base?

      If it is my own business/service,Do I have the capacity (time,human and financial) to code everything? Can I build upon an existing codebase?

      ————————-

      If you are a startup, start with opensource. Use the Joomlas, Drupals, Typos and a whole host of possible candidate CMS solutions and other packages, from server-level(e.g. Debian, CentOS) to business support level(like Accounting etc)

      Reply
      1. Nerudo

         Yerr dude if you are justifying the act of Plugging ! and calling yourself a developer you just wasted your time!

        I would be learning not to type english and code that justifying such a shallow act that teaches you nothing at all.

        I wont argue with you but 90% of the people yo uprobably mentioned are developer and do not just plug and sell products.

        Reply
      2. Prosper Chikomo

        You have gone to great lengths to speak clearly and from the heart answering nothing I said – wanyora chaizvo uchinyora dondo! You even answer yourself.

        With your reasoning, what should one do? Write their own server operating systems as opposed to using the thousands of opensource distros?Build your own vehicle if you want to get into the transporting business? How far does that go?

        Did I say go into the transport business? I said, in the context of your transport example, I said don’t be a whindhi or ticketman, be the transport company owner.My analogy may not really help so I will use the real life cases, which is what I am used to and prefer.

        Like I said above, the Huffington Posts uses Drupal and makes millions. The Huffington Post, because it is a newspaper, sells content. It is not in the business of software development. Its main product can be delivered with Drupal or any other opensource CMS. Their business model works using Drupal, and they make millions.

        Huffington Post is staffed and run by journalists, not coders. And again I never said everyone should code. I never said Huffington Post should therefore drop MsWord etc and create their own. No. That is not their business. I am sure you get that.

        Google, with all its software engineers have used/use commercial software. They (Facebook and others) may be the biggest companies that thrived on opensource but they still put thought on where to focus resources. They are not in the business of developing, say OS Kernels, so they dont develop their own OS. It is a MYTH to believe that you ALWAYS have to write your own software. Can you imagine how their businesses would suffer if all their engineers were allocated to building and maintaining their own operating system kernel? Or if they and others (Facebook, Amazon, Yahoo) etc decided to develop their microchips for their hardware running their operating system kernel upon which ran their core services?No one successful does that!! Why waste resources? You say you are a writer…would you start your own printing press when what you really want to do is to write articles/books? Or create your own word processor(like Microsoft Word) purely for the reason that you want to write?!

        In the first paragraph you answer yourself.

        Google’s business is advertising and search among other things. Their main competency, competitive advantage, competitive strength, and product is the search engine. To be the best you have to stick with what you are best at and Google rightly focuses on its search engine, protecting it and defending it just like the Huffington Post and content creation and generation. Google coded its a search engoine, it did not just get an opensource search engine and use it. Google’s search engine is proprietary just like it page rank system etc. Those are not outsourced. Google can use Microsoft Word because that is not their core business, their business is search. Google therefore does not need to create a entirely new operating system, but it can if it want to, just like it did with Android, which is not a search engine.Google is not Microsoft, which business is operating systems, even though the same programming skills are needed.

        Now using your thinking, Google should never have coded its search engine and simply have used search engines that were already there. They did not need to “re-invent the wheel” as you say. If Google was using opensource software it would not be where it is right now; Google is where it is because its software is not opensource and they control and own their code; they wrote their own code.

        The Facebook you talk about was coded right from day one. It does not matter whether the code was written on free Notepad++ or not, what matters is that Zuckerberg and crew wrote the code of Facebook. It does not matter if they wrote that code on Windows-powered computers made in China. I hope you see the difference. The code is their own. Your analogy of the transport company is off-topic and irrelevant.

        blockquote> It is a MYTH to believe that you ALWAYS have to write your own software.

        Did I say you must always write your own code “ALWAYS”?

        All I said is that anyone who wants to hit the big time like the Zambian guys must know how to code. The Zambian guys are not using opensource software, they coded the item. Otherwise if it was an opensource business, even I would be claiming to own a mobile money transfer company.

        You say you are a writer…would you start your own printing press when what you really want to do is to write articles/books? Or create your own word processor(like Microsoft Word) purely for the reason that you want to write?!

        Yes, I will start my own printing press if it means I will make more money or even save some. There is a difference between writing for a living, for fun, and both. I want my books to sell, and I want to make money in the process.

        In fact, for your own information, i did just that and started my own printing press.There are only 2 Zimbabwean authors published in Zimbabwe in the Amazon Kindle store, TWO. All others were published by big companies. I wanted to sell my book on Amazon, and because i had not found a traditional publisher, i decided to publish my book myself. If i thought like you i would have continued to find a traditional publisher, but instead i decided to do it myself. I taught myself to code. In the end, i am now an expert at producing and publishing Kindle books. Yes i write, but i found and created a better and more efficient and professional way of producing Kindle books. Without learning to code, i would not be able to make custom features in my Kindle books, which is what happens when all you know and do is just to joomla + download and attach plugins.

        Anyway, the other Zimbabwean published book on Amazon is there because i coded it to Amazon specifications for its proprietary AZW file format. It would have cost me $3000 on the international market to have just one book done but i designed even the cover myself and produced the book in the Kindle format. I learnt to code and it helped me. I therefore created my own printing press that right now if i wanted i could start my own publishing empire.

        If it means I start my own printing press and I know I can make more money with it than just writing, why not?

        In the same vein, if I am just a “joomla” and I discover I can make more money creating my own CMS, I would rather create my own CMS than “joomla”.

        Or create your own word processor(like Microsoft Word) purely for the reason that you want to write?!

        Hell yeah I will. If you yourself want to wait upon opensource software, then good for you. If I can code it why the hell not?!

        Let me give you an example, a real life case.

        The guy is based in the UK. What happened was, he ran a printing company. They needed to calculate quotes for jobs of different sizes and papers etc. and like all people who think like you, Microsoft Excel was there to use so why bother thinking outside the box or creating a software for that? After all, he was a printer.

        Well, our brother man, (British – hopefully next time it will be Zimbabwean) decided there had to be a better way to create quotes than using Excel and got some coders to write software that would do the calculations for printing a job etc.

        As time went by, and they tested and tested and even used the software in house, it made their work even better, faster, and lighter, and the software also got better and better. Calculations were instant.

        Soon, friends of that guy in the printing industry got to know about the software and one by one they asked him for software licences and dumped Excel.

        When printers from other cities in the UK started enquiring about the software, he realized he could actually make money from licencing the software than printing. And that is how he became a software mogul. The software earns him millions annually.Contrast that to someone who “joomlas” Excel. Of course joomlaring Excel will still serve the purpose of making calculations, but it will not make him as rich as actually licensing his own code.

        So yes, as a writer and if I can code a better word processing program than Microsoft’s MsWord, then heck I will create the word processing program.Do you think that all companies that sell rival word processing programs like Corel and Sun Microsystems are mad? Ever asked yourself why they did not just use MsWord instead of “re-inventing the wheel” as you say. And just why are organizations like Canonical producing linux OS when Windows exists?

        When the United States landed the first man on the moon, no one had done it before. Wouldn’t you be proud right now if a Zimbabwean was the first man on the moon? Obviously you wouldn’t.

        The kind of programmer I am interested in seeing rise in Zimbabwe and take Zimbabwe and the rest of Africa to the next level, including south Africa, is one who knows how to code, and develops something new, unique and for which he coded himself and not someone who calls himself a programmer and just gets CMS and slaps some plugins.With your thinking we would have just one computer company, because having another computer company would be “re-inventing” the wheel.

        You go on to say:

        You need to remove yourself from your bad experiences from either using or seeing a solution/website implemented in Joomla.

        I am not writing from bad experiences, i am writing from an economics & business point of view.

        I assume you vent towards Joomla because it is the only Free and Open Source Software(FOSS) CMS product that is within your scope/level of work or exposure.

        I will ignore that your statement is offensive. However, what i will tell you is this: do not, and i repeat, DO NOT underestimate my knowledge of joomla whether from a coding, user, or spectator perspective. I have used joomla many many times, i just want to avoid using the word “extensively” I did not just install it but went inside it. I do not desire to be branded a joomla expert or to even become one. My main interest is someone making tonnes of money, millions of US dollars, from software. You cannot do that just joomlaring websites for US$250 or even $2000 each. Please have in mind the distinction of a coder who writes the software, from someone who uses it to deliver a product.

        Reply
  2. Prosper Chikomo

     You have gone to great lengths to speak clearly and from the heart answering nothing I said – wanyora chaizvo uchinyora dondo! You even answer yourself.

    With your reasoning, what should one do? Write their own server operating systems as opposed to using the thousands of opensource distros?
    Build your own vehicle if you want to get into the transporting business? How far does that go?

    Did I say go into the transport business? I said, in the context of your transport example, I said don’t be a whindhi or ticketman, be the transport company owner.
    My analogy may not really help so I will use the real life cases, which is what I am used to and prefer.

    Like I said above, the Huffington Posts uses Drupal and makes millions. The Huffington Post, because it is a newspaper, sells content. It is not in the business of software development. Its main product can be delivered with Drupal or any other opensource CMS. Their business model works using Drupal, and they make millions.

    Huffington Post is staffed and run by journalists, not coders. And again I never said everyone should code. I never said Huffington Post should therefore drop MsWord etc and create their own. No. That is not their business. I am sure you get that.

    Google, with all its software engineers have used/use commercial software. They (Facebook and others) may be the biggest companies that thrived on opensource but they still put thought on where to focus resources. They are not in the business of developing, say OS Kernels, so they dont develop their own OS. It is a MYTH to believe that you ALWAYS have to write your own software. Can you imagine how their businesses would suffer if all their engineers were allocated to building and maintaining their own operating system kernel? Or if they and others (Facebook, Amazon, Yahoo) etc decided to develop their microchips for their hardware running their operating system kernel upon which ran their core services?
    No one successful does that!! Why waste resources? You say you are a writer…would you start your own printing press when what you really want to do is to write articles/books? Or create your own word processor(like Microsoft Word) purely for the reason that you want to write?!

    In the first paragraph you answer yourself.

    Google’s business is advertising and search among other things. Their main competency, competitive advantage, competitive strength, and product is the search engine. To be the best you have to stick with what you are best at and Google rightly focuses on its search engine, protecting it and defending it just like the Huffington Post and content creation and generation. Google coded its a search engoine, it did not just get an opensource search engine and use it. Google’s search engine is proprietary just like it page rank system etc. Those are not outsourced. Google can use Microsoft Word because that is not their core business, their business is search. Google therefore does not need to create a entirely new operating system, but it can if it want to, just like it did with Android, which is not a search engine.
    Google is not Microsoft, which business is operating systems, even though the same programming skills are needed.

    Now using your thinking, Google should never have coded its search engine and simply have used search engines that were already there. They did not need to “re-invent the wheel” as you say. If Google was using opensource software it would not be where it is right now; Google is where it is because its software is not opensource and they control and own their code; they wrote their own code.

    The Facebook you talk about was coded right from day one. It does not matter whether the code was written on free Notepad++ or not, what matters is that Zuckerberg and crew wrote the code of Facebook. It does not matter if they wrote that code on Windows-powered computers made in China. I hope you see the difference. The code is their own. Your analogy of the transport company is off-topic and irrelevant.

    blockquote> It is a MYTH to believe that you ALWAYS have to write your own software.

    Did I say you must always write your own code “ALWAYS”?

    All I said is that anyone who wants to hit the big time like the Zambian guys must know how to code. The Zambian guys are not using opensource software, they coded the item. Otherwise if it was an opensource business, even I would be claiming to own a mobile money transfer company.

    You say you are a writer…would you start your own printing press when what you really want to do is to write articles/books? Or create your own word processor(like Microsoft Word) purely for the reason that you want to write?!

    Yes, I will start my own printing press if it means I will make more money or even save some. There is a difference between writing for a living, for fun, and both. I want my books to sell, and I want to make money in the process.

    In fact, for your own information, i did just that and started my own printing press.
    There are only 2 Zimbabwean authors published in Zimbabwe in the Amazon Kindle store, TWO. All others were published by big companies. I wanted to sell my book on Amazon, and because i had not found a traditional publisher, i decided to publish my book myself. If i thought like you i would have continued to find a traditional publisher, but instead i decided to do it myself. I taught myself to code. In the end, i am now an expert at producing and publishing Kindle books. Yes i write, but i found and created a better and more efficient and professional way of producing Kindle books. Without learning to code, i would not be able to make custom features in my Kindle books, which is what happens when all you know and do is just to joomla + download and attach plugins.

    Anyway, the other Zimbabwean published book on Amazon is there because i coded it to Amazon specifications for its proprietary AZW file format. It would have cost me $3000 on the international market to have just one book done but i designed even the cover myself and produced the book in the Kindle format. I learnt to code and it helped me. I therefore created my own printing press that right now if i wanted i could start my own publishing empire.

    If it means I start my own printing press and I know I can make more money with it than just writing, why not?

    In the same vein, if I am just a “joomla” and I discover I can make more money creating my own CMS, I would rather create my own CMS than “joomla”.

    Or create your own word processor(like Microsoft Word) purely for the reason that you want to write?!

    Hell yeah I will. If you yourself want to wait upon opensource software, then good for you. If I can code it why the hell not?!

    Let me give you an example, a real life case.

    The guy is based in the UK. What happened was, he ran a printing company. They needed to calculate quotes for jobs of different sizes and papers etc. and like all people who think like you, Microsoft Excel was there to use so why bother thinking outside the box or creating a software for that? After all, he was a printer.

    Well, our brother man, (British – hopefully next time it will be Zimbabwean) decided there had to be a better way to create quotes than using Excel and got some coders to write software that would do the calculations for printing a job etc.

    As time went by, and they tested and tested and even used the software in house, it made their work even better, faster, and lighter, and the software also got better and better. Calculations were instant.

    Soon, friends of that guy in the printing industry got to know about the software and one by one they asked him for software licences and dumped Excel.

    When printers from other cities in the UK started enquiring about the software, he realized he could actually make money from licencing the software than printing. And that is how he became a software mogul. The software earns him millions annually.
    Contrast that to someone who “joomlas” Excel. Of course joomlaring Excel will still serve the purpose of making calculations, but it will not make him as rich as actually licensing his own code.

    So yes, as a writer and if I can code a better word processing program than Microsoft’s MsWord, then heck I will create the word processing program.
    Do you think that all companies that sell rival word processing programs like Corel and Sun Microsystems are mad? Ever asked yourself why they did not just use MsWord instead of “re-inventing the wheel” as you say. And just why are organizations like Canonical producing linux OS when Windows exists?

    When the United States landed the first man on the moon, no one had done it before. Wouldn’t you be proud right now if a Zimbabwean was the first man on the moon? Obviously you wouldn’t.

    The kind of programmer I am interested in seeing rise in Zimbabwe and take Zimbabwe and the rest of Africa to the next level, including south Africa, is one who knows how to code, and develops something new, unique and for which he coded himself and not someone who calls himself a programmer and just gets CMS and slaps some plugins.
    With your thinking we would have just one computer company, because having another computer company would be “re-inventing” the wheel.

    You go on to say:

    You need to remove yourself from your bad experiences from either using or seeing a solution/website implemented in Joomla.

    I am not writing from bad experiences, i am writing from an economics & business point of view.

    I assume you vent towards Joomla because it is the only Free and Open Source Software(FOSS) CMS product that is within your scope/level of work or exposure.

    I will ignore that your statement is offensive. However, what i will tell you is this: do not, and i repeat, DO NOT underestimate my knowledge of joomla whether from a coding, user, or spectator perspective. I have used joomla many many times, i just want to avoid using the word “extensively” I did not just install it but went inside it.
    I do not desire to be branded a joomla expert or to even become one. My main interest is someone making tonnes of money, millions of US dollars, from software. You cannot do that just joomlaring websites for US$250 or even $2000 each. Please have in mind the distinction of a coder who writes the software, from someone who uses it to deliver a product.

    Reply
    1. Nerudo

       :-) you really have to consider writing novels. I dont see myself reading all this. Damn bro!! They need to get you a column. Kudos to you.

      On an honest note I think you guys need to stop this and get productive. Ok Lets all love Joomla as Zimbabweans :-D

      Reply

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