Mentor-Mentee Feature at Startup Hour: Chabala Kaunda and Mawano Kambeu

The first of July paved way for the first ever mentor-mentee Startup Hour event held at Protea Hotel Arcades. The event featured rising Zambian entrepreneur golden boy Mawano Kambeu of DotCom Zambia and his mentor Chabala Kaunda.

Mawano and Mr. Kaunda met at a networking event approximately 2 years after the inception of DotCom Zambia. Fast forward to date Mr. Kaunda sits on the Board of Directors for DotCom Zambia.

The startup was struggling to grow at the time and Mawano shared his concerns with Mr. Kaunda at the event where they met. Fortunately, Mr. Kaunda was in tune with Mawano’s idea; thus, offered some advice about the business. Thereafter, Mawano went back for advice to Mr. Kaunda every 2 weeks.

Clearly, the advice given to Mawano by Mr. Kaunda is working because DotCom Zambia went from making 17,000 USD in 2009 to just under 1 million USD by 2014.

Father of mobile technology

Startup Junction describes Mr. Kaunda as one of the fathers of mobile technology. A decade ago, Mr. Chabala was responsible for introducing brands like Nokia, Ericsson, Motorola and Samsung to Zambia. With Mr. Kaunda’s help the DotCom Zambia has seen tremendous growth and now has launched its bus ticketing system.

Started from the bottom

Mawano’s entrepreneurial journey is a riches-to-rags-to-riches story. The Zambian entrepreneur golden boy spent his early childhood in the UK and in his own words “received a better than average education.” Mawano narrates in a blogpost that through various fortunate events, he attended Lechwe School, a private school in Kitwe, on scholarship and felt like he would change Zambia by age 18.

Mawano has been very open about his struggles and challenges of starting and running a business. His honesty would be easy to overlook at present considering that DotCom Zambia and Mawano Kambeu have respectively made a name for themselves. Dn’t be fooled, Google can back me up here.

Parting words

In the spirit of Startup Hour, I had to investigate Mr. Kaunda’s view on the future of Zambian entrepreneurs.

“Hopeful!” he exclaimed. Yes there is fear to take risks but the power is in the young people’s hands now. Instead of sitting and complaining about problems in the country, for example, ZESCO, just do something about it like Mawano did with his bus ticketing solution.

I seriously agree! Don’t you?

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Author: Imanga Kay

Founder and Managing Editor of MANIC

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