Founders Spotlight:Shawn Simba Mariri (Founder & Managing Director, KYC Technologies Botswana)

Since childhood, Shawn has always had dreams of making the world a better place. His extensive career spanning a wide range of interests from theoretical physics to blockchain technology has finally landed him at KYC-Botswana, a startup he co-founded to help businesses with digital transformation, revolutionizing service delivery in the process. He chronicles his rather interesting journey in this interview

In your own words, tell us who Shawn Simba Mariri is

Shawn Simba Mariri is a dreamer. From the time I was a child, I looked up to the stars and dreamt of making contributions to mankind that would forever change the trajectory of our species for the better. I got drawn towards physics, technology, and the stars at a very young age and I made a vow to myself to never live the life of the ordinary as I knew of the great mental capacities I held. One word describes the totality of my being “Futurist”

Please briefly take us through your journey to being a tech entrepreneur?

My background is in cost engineering and over time I began the long journey of studying our ecosystem in Botswana and acquiring the necessary skill sets to satisfy those gaps in the market. That journey took me from supply chain management to systems that support those industries to IT infrastructure. As the natural reductionist, I am, I decided to go to the source of all IT infrastructure and began a protracted journey in theoretical physics so I could better understand the yearning in my soul towards technology. During my studies, I bumped into blockchain technology and I instinctively knew where my heart was. By 2016 when I completed my studies I had 3 critical fields I wanted to specialize in as an entrepreneur and I immediately started the process of forming partnerships with like-minded tech boffins and international solutions providers to beef up our muscle. By 2019 after a long journey of certifications, successes, and failures, we had a coherent team, world-class solutions, and a business model that is self-sustained and growing. 

Please tell us more about your company, KYC-Botswana

KYC BW has deep specialties in, Digital Identity Management Systems (Digital KYC & AML), Business Intelligence (Big Data Analytics and Reporting), Systems Development (Data Center Architecture, Linux Systems, and Cloud Solutions), Digitalization and Digital Transformation Strategy

What was the motivation for starting KYC-Botswana?

KYC Technologies Botswana is a majority citizen-owned tech company. It is the culmination of the vision of Shawn Simba Mariri and Calvin T David to digitalize private business, parastatal, and government processes to give Batswana a seamless experience in service delivery.  

As a digital transformation company specializing in relatively new concepts like BlockChain & Artificial Intelligence, what challenges have you faced?

The biggest challenges we faced are first principles in nature, namely:

  • Many organizations are mostly manual in nature and don’t have the large data stores needed for Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning systems.
  • The confusion between blockchain and cryptocurrency persists to this day and prevents many organizations from adopting our systems that use blockchain-level encryption for security as they think we are steering them to bitcoin. 
  • The legacy systems thinking of bare metal servers in an organization and a huge IT team persists and there’s a serious fear and hatred of cloud infrastructure in Botswana 

How have you been trying to overcome those challenges?

We have dedicated a large chunk of our revenue towards education programs. We also offer obligation-free, zero-rated proof of concept deployments of our solutions stacks to our prospective clients to help them realize the congruent future they’re missing out on. Last but not least, we have formed partnerships with well-known solutions providers to aid in breaking the ice with our deeply suspicious gatekeepers in organizations.

On the other hand, what have been some of the upsides of being a trailblazer and early adopter of helping companies achieve digital transformation?

The Botswana government and Telcos have been very supportive of us and have helped to market us to their ecosystem. Through our education and training programs, we have also formed deep relationships with key stakeholders in organizations that ended up taking our evangelism of tech congruence across the country. 

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the rate of adoption of digital transformation technologies such as BlockChain & AI seems to still be low and slow in Botswana. What has been your experience in terms of the adoption of your services at KYC-Botswana?

On the contrary, we actually saw our business model expand and our ecosystem grow. The seemingly slow growth to the outside observer is not supported by data. Most companies now have some hybrid cloud solution, the vast majority of them now accept solutions of any form that enhance their operations and many have begun the process of upgrading their systems to accommodate the exponential amounts of data they now collect from their digitalization strategies 

What do you think the country stands to gain by being fast in adopting such services like the ones offered by KYC-Botswana?

Organizations that chose to adopt our solutions will get to go completely digital in their operations thereby enhancing the customer experience and whilst reducing the workload of the internal resources. By going digital they will also cut operational costs while increasing revenue by reducing the time it takes to onboard new clients. Compliance will also become seamless as we offer world-class systems that meet local, regional, and international compliance Best Practices 

From your professional experience, what do you think can be done to speed up the rate of digital transformation in Botswana?

Less red tape with regulators in approving digital solutions. Cheaper bandwidth and Autonomous Digital KYC and AML systems so that there’s safety for organizations onboarding individuals.

What advice can you give to businesses who are still hesitant and dragging their feet to embark on a path of digital transformation?

  • Cloud infrastructure is safe and convenient
  • Big data is the future and your organization can monetize this data to grow 
  • You don’t need to look abroad, there are solutions in Botswana to ease your pain points and aid you to have a better pulse on your operations.

From an entrepreneurial perspective, what advice can you give to our readers who may be looking to start a tech-centric business like KYC-Botswana?

  • Don’t fear, the journey of a lifetime starts with a single step
  • Botswana is ripe to start the digital journey, we all have a part to play
  • Make sure your compliance documents are in order

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers regarding what KYC-Botswana is up to,projectwise, currently, and in the near future?

There’s an Autonomous Digital KYC and AML system we are about to deploy for the Telcos and Banking Sector. Watch the space.

Lastly, please share with our readers where you can be reached if they are interested in getting in touch


NB: Interview has been slightly edited for clarity

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