Founder Feature: Saviour Enyam K. Dzage

Sylvana Lewin, Wednesday February 28th 2018

Church CRM tool Asoriba, a member of the MEST Incubator Accra, has been turning heads with their innovative solution for church management. Currently, they’re in the process of scaling across the continent. Today they operate in Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa. This week we spoke with CEO Saviour Enyam K. Dzage to learn more about the company’s next steps, the church tech industry, and his advice for young entrepreneurs.

Tell me a bit about Asoriba.

Asoriba, was founded in September 2015  by four Christian co-founders while atMEST. The team has since grown to 20 employees and currently serves the Ghanaian, Kenyan, Nigerian, and South African markets with its church management application, designed to enable effective administration for church leaders and seamless engagement with their congregations via content, to a mobile app and through USSD channels.

Featured on BBC, CNN, and more as one of the top startups to watch out for in Africa, Asoriba competed on the global stage at Seedstars World in Geneva in 2016. Cofounder Nana Agyeman Prempeh was featured on Forbes Africa’s 30 Under 30 for 2016. Asoriba is also privileged to have been awarded the best Technology Startup in Ghana during the maiden Ghana Startup Awards in 2017. We however count our biggest achievement as being able to provide value for some of the biggest church brands across the continent and bring a total transformation to how churches operate in Africa.

What do you see as the biggest challenge facing the church tech industry today?

The Church, as one of the oldest social institutions, has seen some major transformations over the past few decades. From the emergence of a strong charismatic movement to the evolution of the orthodox denominations, so have the needs of this industry evolved.

Church management has rapidly transformed from just membership administration to a more social and collaborative approach. It's normal practice for preachers to interact with their audience these days via social media and also raise funds through electronic means. Whereas the core of the requirements of this industry remain the same, the differences in denominational practices and the dynamic nature of needs have become a significant challenge to overcome.

Products in this space are thus required to be as flexible and dynamic as possible, serving not just the mega churches, but also the smallest religious units such as home fellowships and cell groups.

Asoriba is currently entering the FinTech space. Can you tell us a bit more about this venture?

Churches are arguably among the top fund-raising institutions, especially in Africa. As a social framework playing the role of many failed state institutions, we commonly find churches putting up schools and hospitals and even running social welfare schemes.

But rather interestingly, the church, which could sometimes process several million dollars annually, does most of its transactions in cash. Not only is it a nightmare moving bulk money around, but also an ineffective means to fundraising.  Asoriba has thus launched a payment platform that enables church members to donate funds and pay tithes and offerings to their churches in real time, using mobile wallets and debit/credit cards anywhere in the world.  

Why you have chosen to enter the FinTech space?

At the heart of our vision at Asoriba is enabling the church to carry out its religious and social functions effectively using technology. Fundraising, as an important aspect of church operations, came in as a non-negotiable requirement we needed to enhance, very early on in the life of our business. Besides the enormous opportunity this presents, the actual motivation to venture into the FinTech space is the value we could provide to the church with technology. Through allowing church members to pay their tithes via mobile money, more are able to participate and ultimately the church is advantaged through this financial inclusion.

What do you see as the key to success of a Pan African company?

Africa is laden with great opportunities that can be exploited by well-informed individuals and organizations. This is to say, deep knowledge of market opportunities is key. Also, remaining locally relevant whilst being ambitious with a global mindset is an important factor. In sum, I'll say focus on what you do best, starting from where you are and keep an international outlook.

As a CEO of a Pan African company, how do you manage your time and keep your time unified?

As a CEO of a budding company, demand on my time is quite intense. From managing a team to keeping stakeholder relations alive whilst steering the strategic direction of the company is a skill I'm still mastering. But thanks to an amazing team I can always count on, I'm able to relieve myself of some tasks by delegating to a reliable team. Careful planning, unified communications, and a collaborative workforce has been key to our productivity. Teamwork works!

[caption id="attachment_6511" align="aligncenter" width="320"] Saviour Dzage[/caption]

Where you like to see the church tech industry in the next ten years and what are Asoriba's plans to make that happen?

We have a mission to empower soul-winning through our technology. This is what inspires us to wake up everyday and show up at Asoriba. Our greatest desire is to see the church transform from traditional administration tofull automation of processes. We already see trends of the digital church emerging, and our hope is to facilitate that with our technology.  

How did MEST help get you to where you are today?

MEST has been a life changer. I entered MEST right after graduation from university. With little experience and uncertainties about what I wanted to do with my life. MEST has really shaped my life with self-discovery, world-class mentorship, a huge network of thought-leaders, and indispensable technical and business skills. Most of all, I learned to never give up at MEST. I learned that I am equally capable.I learned from Jorn Lyseggen that talent is talent everywhere!

What would you say is your greatest success?

Our greatest success as a company is the testimonies of value we provide our clients. A smile on the face of a church administrator using Asoriba is the greatest fulfillment we experience.

What is your favorite part about being an entrepreneur in Ghana?

Being an entrepreneur in Ghana is no doubt a nerve-wracking decision, but happiness lies in the struggles and the belief that we are helping solve our own problems whilst pursuing our passions.  

If you’re interested in starting a company like Asoriba, apply to join the next cohort at the MEST training program today!