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After nearly a decade of a fickle entrepreneurship journey, Bramuel Mwalo, 34, the founder of Xetova, has come to the finality that kindness is the ultimate driver for a successful enterprise.

Founded three years ago, Xetova provides solutions and technologies to help organisations make use of data to improve their operations, be it in supply chain, financial services or running of state corporations.

He has been an entrepreneur for most of his adult life, but until 2015, all he had were dreams which most days only seemed as nothing but illogical penchants of a naive dreamer but dreamed on nonetheless.

In his lifetime, he has had three professions: one in his fantasies as a child, one in the corridors of ritualistic academia, and the last in passion and practice – as an innovator and entrepreneur.

“Growing up, I dreamed of becoming a firefighter, which seemed bizarre to most of my peers and even my parents,” he says. “Others laughed at me, but as much a cliché as it might sound, I have always been attracted to solving problems.”

Along the way, his career path dwindled to Moi University for an undergraduate degree in Banking and Finance and the Kenya Institute of Monetary Studies for a Master’s degree in Finance. He has also been to the famous Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Stanford University in the US to further sharpen his entrepreneurial skills.

But Bramuel met his true purpose when he became the head of the business incubation and acceleration centre at KCA University in Nairobi in 2014, where his entrepreneurship journey kicked off.

Xetova, started in 2019, was a culmination of years of dreaming, effort, and endurance, he says. It now has about 50 employees and offers solutions which traverse the borders of Kenya, with presence in Rwanda, Ethiopia, Malawi, Nigeria, and Ghana.

From a base of zero-capital, the company has grown so much that it is now headquartered in the leafy suburbs of Riverside and boasts a number of corporate clients like the Kenya Revenue Authority, the Ministry of Health and 30 others, and recently finalised a project with the United Nations.

He is proud of what Xetova has so far managed to achieve, but seems to bite his tongue on how much the company is worth now and instead says, “I can only disclose that we have one of Africa’s leading investors in manufacturing infrastructure among our major investors.”

But notwithstanding his preference to leave some things unsaid, he says along his journey of building Xetova into a successful venture, he has learnt tonnes of life skills and entrepreneurship hacks he can’t keep to himself.

“The mistake that most technology start-ups make is trying to sell technology itself, instead of the experience, confidence, and reliability that the technology can offer,” he notes.”

“That is how we bagged our first client: by demonstrating value,” he recounts. “But what really helped us build our credibility and trust was an award we won with MIT.”

“People develop coping mechanisms for problems, but if you show them a better way and get them to trust that you can do it, it shouldn’t be hard to sell your solution.”

And on the biggest challenge to start-ups birthed in Africa by Africans – raising seed capital – Bramuel says many get it wrong by thinking investors care about the problems they are trying to solve.

“In the world of money, there is not start-up or mature company. Investors will only invest if your business solves a problem in a profitable, sustainable and rewarding way, ” he says.

But aside from the challenges at the beginning of the journey, Bramuel says the bulk of challenges for growing companies like Xetova are always identifying and maintaining the required skills and talents.

“To attract and retain the best talent, entrepreneurs should focus on building a mission-driven company because this gives the employees purpose and makes them feel like they are part of something greater than themselves.”

Looking back, he reflects on some of the moments when he had been unsure about the feasibility of his own dreams with Xetova; when the entire concept was too complex even for him to understand, let alone explain, and concludes that indeed, kindness is an important art in business.

“Business is not very kind, if you can’t be kind to your employees, at least be kind to your customers and they will extend it to others.”

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This article originally appeared at https://www.businessdailyafrica.com/bd/corporate/technology/lifetime-dreamer-s-success-philosophy-3890528 on July 25, 2022.

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