As the world becomes increasingly digital, there has been a significant shift in how people handle their financial transactions. Mobile money transfer services such as M-Pesa have become popular in many parts of Africa as they provide a convenient, efficient, and affordable way to send and receive money.
For Julius Wababu, a Kenyan entrepreneur, M-Pesa has been a game-changer, transforming his life and propelling him to success.
Wababu’s journey to entrepreneurship started with a teaching career that lasted for a decade. However, his innate entrepreneurial spirit and desire to create something of his own led him to venture into business.
He began by importing photocopying machines and accessories from Dubai and selling them locally. He also operated a photocopying service shop, but the market became saturated, and revenues began to decline sharply.
It was during this period that Wababu accidentally discovered a new opportunity that would transform his life. In 2007, he encountered a woman at his photocopying shop who was wearing a t-shirt with the M-Pesa logo. Intrigued, he struck up a conversation with her and learned about the requirements for opening an M-Pesa shop.
With just KES 30,000 (about $300), Wababu decided to give it a try and became an M-Pesa sub-agent.
Within two weeks of opening his shop, business started to grow faster than he had anticipated. The 2007 post-election violence in Kenya, which led to displacement and a breakdown of the banking system, provided a boost for his business. Many people wanted to send money to their loved ones, and M-Pesa provided a convenient way to do so.
Wababu’s customer base grew, and he was soon able to open three outlets and become an independent M-Pesa dealer.
Wababu’s business, Wabcom Technologies, has since expanded rapidly, and he now operates over 200 M-Pesa outlets and employs about 300 people. He also uses an aggregator model, where small operators give him commission to run under his name. In addition to money transfer services, Wabcom Technologies now sells airtime, modems, mobile operator lines, and data. His business has become so valuable that it now does a minimum of KES 400 million (about $4 million) every month.
To ensure the continued growth and success of his business, Wababu has had to overcome several challenges. Fraud has been a significant threat, but he has managed to mitigate it through employee training, installing CCTVs in most of his outlets, and insuring the float. His wife, Beatrice Wababu, also started Webcom Ventures, a training and business consultancy firm that helps recruit the right staff for the M-Pesa business and other startups.
Wababu’s success story demonstrates the power of entrepreneurship and innovation in transforming lives and creating opportunities. His accidental discovery of the M-Pesa business has not only reshaped his financial freedom story but also provided a valuable service to his community.
His business has also helped to drive financial inclusion and promote economic growth by providing affordable and accessible financial services to many people who were previously unbanked.