As blockchain adoption continues to gain ground across Africa, organizations like Celo have created and funded competitions in order to identify and support projects that are solving real-world problems on the continent using the blockchain technology.
We got to chat with Nhial Majok, the CEO of PesaBase, the winners of the Celo Blockchain Inaugural Camp – Edition One – on what it takes to build and grow a blockchain startup in Africa.
Following the win, Kesho Labs, the company behind the Pesabase brand, is also apparently looking to do a complete rebrand to Pesabase as a key strategy in order to focus entirely on its winning product as opposed to building a blockchain development shop.
Nhial offered great insights into what it takes to build a blockchain startup in emerging markets like Africa and why vision and purpose are integral to success.
We also delved into the demanding process of qualifying and actually winning this inaugural camp and lessons that startups can gather from this experience.
Check out Nhial’s responses to our questions below:
What inspired the idea behind Pesabase?
Pesabase was driven by a need to support the Southern Sudanese community in its money remittance. As one of them that consistently sent money to East Africa, I felt the cost and convenience were challenging. Pesabase is our desire to solve this problem.
What does it take to build a blockchain product in an emerging market?
It takes getting the right team together and training those who are willing to learn blockchain development. Our team is now well equipped to handle any blockchain project. It took several months of training for the team to go from having no previous experience with blockchain to having top competence, as it’s evident with the win in Celo Camp. The team needs to be hungry to succeed, committed to the vision and purpose all through the project. Its best qualities need to be leveraged for each one to succeed beyond their aspirations.
What did it take to go through the Celo process?
It began with an application and promptly following through the project milestones outlined clearly by the Celo Camp Team. We had to show that we understood what it takes to build a business and that the team understood blockchain technology and how to implement it to solve a customer’s problem easily.
It also helped that our mission was aligned with Celo’s desire to build the conditions for prosperity for all.
What is your advice to blockchain / crypto startups on the continent?
Just try, expose yourself and learn. Figure out why you’re doing what you’re doing; your vision and purpose must guide your commitment to what you’re trying to achieve. It’s so early in the blockchain ecosystem, and not everything is ready; you need to be patient to learn every day.
What does this win mean for Pesabase?
It’s a call to arms for us to make the vision a reality. Celo believed in our promise, and it’s upon us to make the vision a reality.
How do you feel the vision of Celo and Pesabase connect?
Celo are solving the foundational layer of infrastructure that makes it easy for people to transact and build wealth via blockchain technology. It’ll be easy for users on mobile platforms to transact value.
Celo has uniquely opted to build a mobile first, or mobile centric platform, which is a great match for emerging markets, where millions of users engage, connect and transact via mobile devices. They’re creating conditions for prosperity. We’re building solutions leveraging this to improve access to financial services right within this context, which is why it’s a great delight for us to be building at such a time as this.