[Interview] Vahid Monadjem, CEO Nomanini | South Africa
Vahid Monadjem is the founder and CEO of Nomanini, a South African-based enterprise payments platform provider that enables transactions in the cash-based informal retail sector. Vahid is a trained engineer with extensive knowlegde in product design experiences.
His interview with Africa Business Communities:
Can you introduce Nomanini to us?
Nomanini means ‘Anytime’ in Siswati. Our core focus is to provide affordable access to payments for everyone, everywhere. We are a South African-based enterprise payments platform provider that enables transactions in the cash-based informal retail sector. With our end-to-end solution designed for informal market environments, enterprise prepaid distributors are able to bolster their distribution channels, add to their portfolio of transaction services, increase their access to informal market consumers and efficiently monitor micropayments and services via a scalable cloud-based platform. We have Pan-African partnerships enabling thousands of merchants to supplement their income, processing over one million transactions monthly.
What motivated the move to start this line of business for the African market?
Nomanini was founded with the aim of developing a product that would replace prepaid airtime scratchcards. Scratchcards allow vendors to quickly and easily distribute prepaid airtime, without interrupting sales of other items consumers want, but the the cost and time it takes a vendor to get bulk prepaid scratch cards is inefficient.
Since then, we have expanded our product offering and maximised the fact that our PoS comes with a powerful cloud dashboard. Our web management tool allows distributors of bulk prepaid airtime and electricity to have greater visibility of their supply chain.
In what sectors in Africa are you most functional?
In terms of sectors describing our users, we are most active with on-street vendors and with single lane independent retailers. In terms of payment types, the predominant tender type is cash and purchase is mobile top up. Prepaid electricity and bill payments are increasing rapidly and we’re also building in mobile money cash-in and cash-out functionality.
What about the informal trading sector do you find most challenging?
Reaching the informal sector at scale is difficult. They are spread widely geographically and there are regional differences, not to mention different segments, which means that one size does not fit all.
How is Nomanini addressing these problems?
We work with local partners in each county. They construct a product offering that suits the local market and also design and execute the go-to-market strategy. While we provide the end-to-end (white labelled) technology solution and also bring advisory based on our experience elsewhere, this approach results in a truly localised product. It’s the best way we have found to deliver a locally relevant solution built on a common global platform.
Any success stories you would like to share?
As a result of our approach we were able to reach merchants in 8 countries in 18 months. We grew from having facilitated one million transactions in 2014 to doing that in a month by the end of 2015.
What is the key work ethic that, in your opinion, sets Nomanini apart?
I think every team member at Nomanini connects with not only what we’re trying to do (create affordable access to payments for everyone, everywhere), but why we’re doing it. And once a group of people come together to do something that they believe in, it becomes easier to deliver great results.
What is your vision for Nomanini in five years from now?
Our goal is be to the preferred enterprise payments platform provider for merchant aggregation in the informal retail sector. By 2020 we would like to be serving one million informal merchants.
What would you say to a budding entrepreneur looking to start his own business?
Make sure you do something that you believe in and work with people whose capability and integrity you trust. It's not a straight line and there will be times when that love of what you do and those around you are needed to keep you going.