How do you access your sector as of 2016? How do your company compare to competitors?
The Kenya ICT sector has really grown tremendously in the last five to seven years. Especially, we were recognized when M-Pesa came into the world and people started looking at Kenya, “Wow, innovative products can come from Kenya.” But STL started in 1991 with five people and I had a goal of growing this company. And, at that time, it was very rarely known that a Kenyan product with software was indigenously designed and developed. My goal was to really have the international technology with the latest technology versions and train the local skills to design world class products. And that was a little bit doubtful for a lot of people, but I was very confident about it. So when we saw that this was going to be a bit challenging, because at the time these skills were completely zero, not even where now at least we have very good resources compared to 1991, we started our own institute. That’s why IST started. And we started creating the people and absorbing for our customers’ requirements. Concerning east Africa, Kenya is a hub now. East Africa neighbouring countries are really looking at Kenya very seriously for every kind of leadership stage. Call it infrastructure, call it software development, call it projects or e-governance. Kenya has become a regional hub for technologies and people are looking up to us. I would not stop at east Africa. Our next goal is to be a global company.
Can you explain what your expansion plans are? Where are you present now, and what is your strategy?
We started in Nairobi as a headquarters. But I knew that if I want to grow I can’t only depend on one country. If there is certain uncertainty, as there was in 1998 and 2008, we need to really grow regionally. So we have our project offices, not brand offices, but project offices, in Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Nigeria, Ghana. Wherever our projects are, we have our partnerships with the resellers. And that really gives us leverage from a partner because they know the local market, they know the local culture, they know the local government. And that way we add value to the solution. Good solution design anywhere in the world is a good solution. It doesn’t have to come from first world countries, or USA, or UK, or India or South Africa. Good solutions, even if designed in a village, will be really recognized all around the world. And that’s what we are known for: good service and good solution. Today, I’m very proud that whoever uses our products really calls for celebration. “Oh, this is a Kenyan product? Wow!” And they give us a reference. Today, we get references all around the world. People call us from the USA and UK and South Africa, “Hey why don’t you try and come and market over here?” So nothing will stop me to become a global company.