This piece is the first of a series of posts featuring the work of inspiring people we met in the process of preparing the first report on the Startup ecosystem in Ghana. Startup Profiles will be included in the final document we are looking forward to share with Investors and Policy-makers at global events such as DEMO Africa and Angel Fair South Africa. If you are a startup founder, make sure to participate and get a chance to be featured in this blog and/or the report by taking this survey.
Have you ever been so frustrated by poor customer service that you want to rip out your hair and strangle a pillow just to have something to take your frustrations out on? We’ve all been there, haven’t we? And the worst part is knowing that no matter how much we vent, it won’t do any good. The company at fault isn’t going to hear us.
When a young Ghanaian woman’s mobile service provider failed her for the ‘ump-teenth’ time, local entrepreneur Michael Ocansey was thrilled to be able to point her towards Kuzima, a service that allowed her frustrations to be heard. “You should have seen the spark on her face just by knowing there was a place she could vent her frustrations,” Ocansey said, citing the incident as one of highest moments in his young company’s history. “It was very comforting for me to know that people have a need of the service.”
Kuzima.com, the product of Kuzima Ltd, is an online platform for users like you or I to help promote quality customer service by praising companies that provide the general public with services. Kuzima provides two services: a means for consumers to voice their opinions, good and bad, about the customer service they experience from different companies, and a means for corporates to protect their brand by making them aware of what their customers are saying and giving them the opportunity to respond.
Ocansey began Kuzima in 2011, after having worked as a web developer for ten years at various companies. He left behind his typical ‘8-to-5’ position and began Kursor Solutions, his own software development company. Along the way, he felt the need for a forum like Kuzima developing in his mind. “The idea of giving customers a platform for expressing their dissatisfaction came was born out of frustrations I had personally as a customer dealing with so many service providers,” he said in an interview with SliceBiz’s research associate Thomas Prud’homme.
In his work with Kuzima, Ocansey has been motivated by three things: the big and genuine issue that the website is trying to address and fix, the idea that one day Kuzima will create thousands of jobs for talented and educated workers, and his passion for his work. “I just love writing code,” he told us.
It is a good thing Ocansey loves the foundation of what he is doing, because it has been a hard battle getting things started and the work is still not over. Ocansey himself cited a number of challenges he has faced in getting Kuzima off the ground. Having faced the lack of affordable co-working space, the challenge of finding the right people, and above all the challenge of finding capital to help scale, Ocansey had some words of advice for budding entrepreneurs. “Start up properly,” he said. “Put structures in place even if its a one man startup, so when you begin to grow things fall into the structure. Accounting needs to be done right from day one.”
Ocansey, and Kuzima, believe in customer driven business. “The customer is everything,” he recounted. “One happy customer is worth more than a million newspaper adds. A happy customer is a gargantuan billboard for your business.” Perhaps this is why Ocansey is so excited by the future of Ghana’s innovation landscape. “A lot more youth are becoming entrepreneurs. There’ll be more competition. To survive one has to be the best. The best is always a good thing for the customer.”
In a space of increasing technology and distance between the provider and the consumer, services like Kuzima become more and more significant. Ocansey’s business is providing people with the opportunity to communicate with those providing their services. Whether your internet service is giving you a headache (I know mine is!) or your caterers show up an hour late having burned the food, Kuzima provides a space for your experiences to be heard. Change begins by giving people a voice.