Formed in 2014 by co-founders Nana, Jesse, Saviour, and Patrick, Asoriba was started to address the church market. The goal behind Asoriba? To use it as a tool to address the challenges churches face that could be solved with technology. Today Asoriba is run by twenty-two full-time staff members across four countries: Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa. It was judged Ghana’s best technology start-up by Seedstars at the Startup Awards 2017 in August and if its five year strategic plan is successful, Asoriba will be the market leaders in Africa within the next three years.
Please explain what Asoriba does?
Asoriba is a unique web and mobile application that enables effective church administration for leaders and seamless engagement with members via mobile phones (via app & SMS) while making it easy to pay tithes and offerings from your phone via mobile money and cards. We also provide tailor-made financial services to the church.
What gap did you spot in the market?
Four major gaps/problems were identified in church operations:
- Inefficient monitoring of member attendance and gathering of reports from multiple church branches.
- Ineffective engagement & communication in large congregation by busy and highly influential leaders.
- Difficulty in tracking financial contributions (books and excel sheets are still being used by many churches).
- High cost in creating, sharing, and tracking events/occasions (flyers and banners are extensively being printed but it’s very hard to track and measure their impact).
How hard has it been to convince the few clients you have to jump on board seeing that the church appears to be the last place for tech?
It’s not been a challenge to be frank. The problem is really clear and real. There is a huge pain and most churches are in deep need of such a unique solution.
How do you differentiate yourselves?
We make it easy to pay your tithes and offerings from your mobile phone using mobile money or cards. We provide churches with a mobile app for its members on signup enabling seamless branch integration into the same system. We will soon be introducing an offline version because of the poor internet connection in most African countries.
How are you funded?
So far we have taken funding from Barclays and Techstars. Until recently when we joined the Barclays accelerator powered by Techstars, we had been running on our sales. Even though we have been presented with a couple of offers, we have made a decision on a few of them.
What markets are you operating in currently? Do you have any expansion plans?
We are currently working in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa. We have a five year strategic plan that will make us market leaders in Africa and Latin America. We also have an independent partner model that provides individuals and companies with the opportunity to be resellers and make commissions.
How do you generate revenue?
We make money in 3 ways:
- Software as a service pricing
- Service charges for in app contributions/payments
- Resale of SMS
Another method we are considering is a global Christian news feature in the mobile app that will have some sponsored content.
What difficulties have you encountered in launching Asoriba?
Apart from the difficulty in finding tech and business talent, we haven’t been faced with much difficulty. This has been the case especially with MEST Incubator, Techstars support, the Barclays Rise team’s support, and that of the entire tech and Christian community in Ghana.
What are your greatest achievements to date?
We were judged Ghana’s best technology start-up in August by Seedstars at the Startup Awards 2017. In January, out of forty companies competing in Casablanca, we emerged the best start-up in Africa. In March 2016 we visited Switzerland to compete with fifty-nine start-ups across the world for $500,000. We made it to the last nine companies and pitched to 200+ investors. We didn’t win but we attracted the world’s attention on emerging markets.
What advice would you give to entrepreneurs venturing into the start-up scene?
Be prepared for anything! Truth be told, the start-up journey is not an easy one but eventually it pays off if done right. Entrepreneurs should be prepared to face rejections, disappointments, lean seasons and most of all, a lot of work. But it is a worthwhile experience, full of learning and lessons. Have high hopes, don’t kill your dreams, fold up your sleeves, look into the future and build what’s missing.
How difficult is accessing finance as a start-up?
Accessing financing can be very difficult for start-ups in Africa for multiple reasons.
Investors may not clearly understand you market so your numbers may not make sense. The fear of African start-ups failing and doubt about the skillset of the founder is really high among investors. Finally, having recurring payment functionality for your solution in Africa is a tough thing to come by.
We’ve began to read bibles from I-pads, pay offerings online, join church services via live features on social media, and then, there’s Asoriba. Do you see churches going fully digital in the nearest future?
Churches are already digital – from their LED screens for scriptures, to mobile apps for donation, to hundreds of prolific bible apps and pastors preaching from I-pads! In addition to their administrative activities, which are being digitized by Asoriba, churches are fast adapting technology.
Since kick-off, how has the response been from Africans?
A lot of churches have found Asoriba as a great solution to their administration needs. Churches across Africa have engaged us to provide the solution for them. This is the case especially for large churches with over 50,000 members. To date our data base registers 1,500 signups.
What are the future plans for Asoriba?
We have three years left to execute our five year strategic plan. The plan is to be the main church application in Africa. At this stage, it is all about scale.