‘Failing to Win’ – What It Takes To Pioneer One of Africa’s First FinTech Startups

Keet van Zyl who on Twitter said that, “[‘Failing to Win’ is] a story of the ups and downs of #Startup life in #Africa worth sharing.

Fintech. Wright Studio / Shutterstock.com

Canadian entrepreneur, Mike Quinn, is all set to reveal what it takes to pioneer a tech start-up in Africa with the upcoming release of ‘Failing to Win’, a candid recollection of his time spent building Zoona, a billion-dollar company on a quest to create A Cashless Africa.

“’Failing to Win’ is my honest glimpse inside the black box of pioneering a start-up in Africa and the journey I took towards connecting impact investors with purpose-driven African entrepreneurs,” says Quinn.

“It’s been incredible to watch Africa’s tech start-up wave grow over the past couple of years, and I am hoping that my book can help positively influence the ecosystem to give these companies a better chance, so that my failures can help them to win.”

Quinn emigrated to Africa in 2009 with a mission to find entrepreneurs building scalable, high-impact businesses. In Lusaka, Zambia, he met two brothers who were starting a business to help unbanked small-scale farmers receive mobile payments in a market where cash was king.

With his partners, Quinn led Zoona to build a network of 2,500 entrepreneurs across Zambia and Malawi, enabling millions of unbanked customers to send and receive $2.5 billion in money transfers and remittances.

By 2019, Zoona had raised over $30 million of venture investment and operated on the leading edge of Africa’s emerging fintech ecosystem.

“This book is a first-hand account of how Mike and the leadership team experienced the euphoria of exponential growth, the challenges of cash burn and funding constraints, the Black Swan events that shaped business decisions, and the game theory a start-up faces when taking on the big players,” says Charles Niehaus, a former Zoona board chair.

For Quinn’s former partner and CFO, Keith Davis, the book is vital literature for any would-be African entrepreneur: “Mike and I worked closely together for eight of his 10 years. He has managed to capture in vivid detail the myriad challenges we faced along the way. ‘Failing to Win’ is a must-read for anyone who has or will start a business in Africa.”

‘Failing to Win’ has already generated much excitement on social media, with the former FNB CEO and fintech entrepreneur, Michael Jordaan, expressing his excitement on Twitter: “Far too often we focus on start-up success stories. But we can learn just as much (or maybe more) from failures. Here’s one African Fintech that Failed to Win.”

To fund his book, Quinn has started a Thundafund page which, in just three days, has raised more than $3,000 towards the $20,000 he needs to publish. This enthusiasm is of no surprise considering the support Quinn has received from the likes of  Keet van Zyl who on Twitter said that, “[‘Failing to Win’ is] a story of the ups and downs of #Startup life in #Africa worth sharing. Support this @Thundafund #FailingToWin CrowdFunding campaign and learn…”

To bring his book to light, Quinn has partnered up with the award-winning storyteller and editor, Rory O’Conor, who has helped Quinn shape and edit the story and draw out his most important insights. ‘Failing to Win’ will be finished by the first half of 2020 and published via Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, Audible and traditional printing houses.

To be a part of getting this must-read story into the hands of Africa’s entrepreneurs, make a pledge at https://www.thundafund.com/project/failing_to_win. In return for your support, Quinn is offering reward packages for donations as little as $10, with bulk packages and personal presentation by Quinn also on offer for larger contributions.


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