Moshe Shokgolo is the Business Development Manager at Afrocast IT Solutions, and a recent participant in Accenture’s ESD Programme. Here he shares some of his journey from humble beginnings to becoming a successful businessman on a mission to make a sustainable business out of his passion for IT.
I was born in Alex township, to a mom who was a factory worker and dad who was a driver, and completed my schooling at Northview High School. My dad is an entrepreneur so I think an interest in business runs in our family. The IT passion developed after I spent time after school working for three different banks as an IT technician. But I quickly felt my efforts were not really being valued, so I decided to do IT for myself.
IT support was something we had been doing on the side, and we thought we could make more of it, so we set up a CC doing MS resales and office IT support.
I left official employ in 2013 and my brother and I started Afrocast. My brother came up with the name. After all, we’re an African company that wants to cast our net across the continent.
We got our first clients the old fashioned way, by knocking on doors and before long we had expanded into mobile development. My brother is a developer, so his technical skills and my business skills complemented each other.
Our advice to other local app developers is not to forget the feature phone market. Our current largest project is a mobile bulletin that we’ve developed in association with Accenture through their ESD programme. What makes it special is that it’s essentially free from data costs to the user as it runs on USSD – making it ideal for large corporate, civil or state-owned entity companies to communicate with their users, cheaply, and have their users be able to reply for free. Communities can report to the police, or their local church without incurring costs. It has huge potential in any emerging market as the cost is reverse charged to the large organisation – who are happy to cover the license as it no longer means employees have the excuse, when running late for example, that they didn’t have airtime!
We were lucky enough to get involved in the ESD programme, which really helped us refine our product and our pitch. Accenture helped us to realise that we had a very powerful product, more than what we thought we had. We managed to get accepted into the programme because I used to work part-time for Accenture in 2004 and approached them with the idea and got the opportunity to pitch and get accepted.
As an SMME we try to get into the best business development programmes but honestly this is one of the best, due to the amount of support that we get. Any kind of support we needed; strategic, technical, marketing - you just snap your fingers and you get it! It really has been amazing. Accenture resources have really helped to polish up our offering and give us the platform to run with.
Any kind of support you need [from Accenture], you just snap your fingers and you get it! It really has been amazing. Accenture resources have really helped to polish up our offering and give us the platform to run with.
Today, we’re based in Alexandra Community Centre with a permanent staff of four along with some occasional interns. We are already in the testing phase of app development, and in five years, I’d love to see our product being used throughout the continent and the developing world!