Founder looking to raise $20k to release story of one of Africa’s first fintech startups

Canadian Mike Quinn is looking for a cool $20 000 from backers to fund the publication of a book he has written on the story of how he started one of Africa’s first fintechs, Zoona.

Zoona is a mobile money business that brings financial services to underserved communities all over Africa.

With 24 days to go Quinn (pictured above) has raised over $3000 through a crowdfunding campaign on SA crowdfunding platform ThundaFund.

In 2009, Quinn packed his backpack and moved to Africa on a mission to find entrepreneurs building scalable, high-impact businesses.

Canadian Mike Quinn is looking to crowdfund $20k to publish a book he has written on fintech Zoona

In Lusaka, Zambia, he stumbled across two brothers who were starting a business to help unbanked small-scale farmers receive mobile payments in a market where cash was king.

After convincing his retired parents in Canada to mortgage their house and lend him $100,000, Mike joined as a co-founder of Zoona and became CEO for nine of the next 10 years.

With his partners, he led the company to build a network of 2500 entrepreneur agents across Zambia and Malawi that enabled millions of unbanked customers to send and receive $2.5-billion in money transfers and remittances.

Zoona raised over $30-million of venture investment and operated on the leading edge of Africa’s emerging fintech ecosystem.

Why did I write it?

But Quinn, in a LinkedIn post on Monday (10 February), claims he never intended writing a book.

“In fact, a year ago in February 2019, I would have bet that I would still be at the helm of Zoona, leading the company through its pivot towards a new business-to-business (B2B) offering following the disruption of our legacy over-the-counter money transfer product.

“But March 2019 was a fateful month for me, where many things became clear. One of them was that I was no longer the best person to run the company,” he wrote.

He said it was time for his co-founders Brad and Brett Magrath to respectively step into their own CEO roles of Zoona and its new spin-off, Tilt.

“It dawned on me that this was the best thing for the company, the best thing for Brad and Brett, and what I didn’t quite realise at the time, the best thing for me as well.”

“Ten years earlier in February 2009, I had convinced my then fiancé to move from London to Lusaka, Zambia with me on a hunch.

“I was determined to find purpose-driven African entrepreneurs building impactful and scalable businesses. My big bet was that I could connect these entrepreneurs to an emerging group of global impact investors to provide them with the capital they needed to scale.

“Rather than playing the role of a broker, I would stick around and go all in with the entrepreneurs to help them get their businesses off the ground and realise their full potential.

“Brad and Brett were the first entrepreneurs I met on my first day in Lusaka after the first scouting email I sent. It’s unbelievable how lucky I got.

“I helped them secure one of the first fintech investments on the continent, and we ended up working together for the next 10 years. They were brothers by blood, but they became my brothers as well, as did our fourth partner, Keith Davies,” said Quinn.

Getting the words down

Writes Quinn on the book’s campaign page on ThundaFund: “After leaving Zoona in April 2019 following my 10th anniversary, I sat in front of my computer to reflect on the journey I had just finished and everything I learned along the way.”

He said after over three months of full-time writing, he ended up with a 118 000-word manuscript.

“Since then, I have teamed up with award winning story-teller and editor, Rory O’Connor, to shape and edit the story, draw out my most important lessons learned and insights, and edit out the non-essential parts.

“Together, we plan to complete the shaping, editing, and book design process in the first half of 2020. The book will then be ready to publish, either via Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing and Audible, or via a traditional or boutique publishing house. My goal is to have the book published either way by the end of 2020,” says Quinn.

Featured image: Former Zoona CEO and founder Mike Quinn (Facebook)



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