In Conversation: Naledi Magowe (Co-founder & Chief Growth Officer, Brastorne)

With over 3 million subscribers across Botswana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cameroon, and Guinea, agritech startup Brastorne is the epitome of successfully executing in pre-emerging markets. The company's flagship product is mAgri, a USSD-based app that provides vital agricultural information to farmers and empowers them to sell their produce to the market.

BW TechZone caught up with Brastorne's co-founder and Chief Growth Officer Naledi Magowe to get her insights into how the company has been successful in operating in pre-emerging markets which comes with its fair share of challenges.

Please provide a background of Brastorne and the problem it is trying to solve

Brastorne was established with a vision to empower rural communities in Africa that often face limited access to essential information and opportunities because of the existing digital gap. Our platform solves the digital divide and addresses the challenges of rural isolation by providing access to valuable insights, connections, opportunities and resources that can uplift communities and enable them to thrive. Through simple mobile technology available on both feature phones and smartphones, we aim to connect the unconnected communities in Africa to the resources they need to improve their livelihoods.

How did the business gain early traction in a pre-emerging market like Botswana?

Gaining early traction in pre-emerging markets like Botswana involved strategic outreach and partnerships with mission-aligned organizations that have existing relationships or direct access to our target communities, our biggest partner being the Mobile network operators. We also engaged with local community leaders and leveraged existing community networks to introduce our multi-channel platform. By understanding the unique needs of these communities and offering accessible information through various channels like SMS, voice calls, and community meetings, we were able to gain their trust and demonstrate the value we bring.

What opportunities would you say are present in pre-emerging markets compared to emerging markets like SA, Nigeria, Kenya, etc

Pre-emerging markets present distinctive opportunities due to their unexplored potential. With fewer players in these markets, businesses can establish a strong presence and shape the direction of growth. These markets often have close-knit communities that value shared resources and information. Early movers in pre-emerging markets have the opportunity to pioneer innovative solutions that cater directly to unconnected rural populations, positioning themselves as leaders in addressing their needs.

On the other hand, what challenges and limitations are present in those markets and how have you been working your way around them?

While pre-emerging markets offer unique opportunities, they also come with challenges. Limited infrastructure, including internet connectivity and access to technology, can hinder widespread adoption. Cultural nuances, language barriers and low literacy rates might pose communication barriers. To navigate these challenges, we've developed a multichannel solution that transcends these barriers. By incorporating SMS, voice calls, and in-person community engagement, we ensure that our platform reaches everyone in these unconnected communities.

What advice would you give to founders who are building out from pre-emerging markets?

For founders working in pre-emerging markets, my advice would be to deeply understand the needs and challenges of your target communities and co-create with them. Collaborate with local community leaders and organizations to gain insights and build trust. Developing a strong network of mentors and peers who understand the context can provide invaluable guidance for navigating the unique landscape of your target market

In terms of the future, what do you reckon needs to be addressed to make pre-emerging markets just as attractive as emerging ones in terms of investment?

Showcasing successful case studies and highlighting the potential impact of entrepreneurs in emerging markets can attract investors seeking untapped opportunities for positive change.

Previous Post Next Post