Church CRM Asoriba Scales Pan-African

Sylvana Lewin, Monday January 8th 2018

“When we were EITs at MEST, we were always told to say I will build a globally successful world class company. From day one, we knew we weren’t just setting out to build a Ghanaian SME.” - Nana Agyeman Prempeh, CEO of Asoriba

MEST company Asoriba is on the road to becoming a Pan-African brand. Since launching in Ghana in 2015, Asoriba has taken advantage of the Pan-African MEST network, scaling their product first to South Africa via the TechStars Barclay's Accelerator, then to Nigeria with the help of MEST partner Interswitch, and most recently into Kenya. In the future, they hope to reach the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Togo, Cote d’Ivoire, and Burkina Faso. All of these countries have large Christian populations and are positioned to move the company to new markets. DRC would be the company’s first move into Central Africa, while Togo, Cote d’Ivoire, and Burkina Faso would be an entrance into the Francophone Africa.Their hope is that one day Asoriba will be used by Christian populations is East, West, South, and Central Africa.

Asoriba is a web-based and mobile CRM for churches that enables effective administration and seamless engagement with members, while allowing for online donations, via mobile money. This also puts Asoriba in the fintech space, enabling financial inclusion for unbanked members. Asoriba has a vision of becoming a household name across the continent. CEO Nana Agyeman Prempeh explains, “In the next five years when any church thinks about a church management software solution, the name we want them to think of is Asoriba. And that means that we have to look at where the churches are and have a way of reaching decision makers.”

[caption id="attachment_6022" align="aligncenter" width="665"] The Asoriba Kenya team.[/caption]

Currently Asoriba is using a lean and strategic method of market entry by first establishing a brand presence and onboarding two local staff members. Having local staff is important because they have a nuanced understanding of what the local needs are and how best to reach their audience. Word of mouth is a major marketing channel in these regions, so the idea is to first begin to initiate a brand presence, then get first key clients and begin to grow naturally. A focus is placed on key churches within new markets, and once those churches are signed, they become cornerstones to attract other clients.
“MEST as a training program helped me have a global vision. MEST as a company helped me realize that it’s achievable.”

Prempeh believes that MEST played a big role in shaping the Pan-African vision that Asoriba has today. When asked of his time at MEST, he says, “MEST as a training program helped me have a global vision. MEST as a company helped me realize that it’s achievable.”

The MEST expansion to Lagos, Cape Town, and Nairobi has also served as a big help for Asoriba. Prempeh states, “We had always wanted to set up work in Cape Town, but it wasn’t that easy. Having a MEST Incubator there means that we can now have a place to work from, which will significantly reduce the cost of expansion and maintain the culture we are used to.”

Growing pains

Prempeh is the first to admit that expansion has not always been easy. Asoriba has faced several challenges, from the cost of moving money across borders to seemingly simple things like accommodations for staff. He also pointed out that as they send staff from Ghana to new countries for about 2 months to create company presence and onboard in-country staff, adjusting to the culture of a new environment presents another challenge.

When asked what advice he has for companies looking to expand, Prempeh had a lot to say. He emphasizes the importance of having a clear plan in place and constantly reviewing that plan. If its not working, make sure you know when to pull out because it’s an expensive endeavor. He also says, “Never be afraid to give people a challenge - talent is talent and if someone has the passion to do something, they will succeed.” Like Meltwater CEO Jorn Lyseggen, Prempeh believes talent is everywhere; you just have to look to find it.

If you dream of becoming the CEO of a Pan-African brand like Nana Prempeh, apply to be an EIT at MEST today! We’re accepting applications for the class of 2019 now.