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How Hildah Moraa sold business idea for Sh. 100 million aged 26

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Four years ago, Hildah Moraa, was a broke undergraduate student and she decided to turn her school project into a business.

The amount of time and energy spent in developing the idea that led to the formation of Wezatele Ltd made her drop out of her masters class. The then 26-year-old who was the last speaker during the opening session of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2015 in Nairobi, used the event to inform her parents that she had dropped out of class to pursue an idea that in May this year was acquired for Sh. 100 million.

“I know my parents are watching me. This is the first time I am telling them I dropped out of my masters’ class,” she told the crowd at GES2015. She gave up on her dreams of a better job and education abroad just for her start-up.

I quit my job to start a business, lost Sh. 10 million… but later recovered

“I had opportunities to go to Oxford University and work for Google but I gave it up,” she said adding, “It was not going to be successful if we didn’t have time to believe.” Hildah is the co-founder of MyOrder Africa and the CEO of Weza Tele, a mobile solution firm in the supply chain, distribution and financial services in the emerging markets.

In May 2015, AFB bought the start-up Weza Tele Ltd, in a deal whose value in stock and cash is estimated to be about Sh. 100 million. AFB is a financial services company that specializes in providing credit products to consumers in Africa. After the buyout, she was appointed the country head at AFB. Throughout the journey, Hildah and her partners almost gave up. “One time we thought of ourselves of being the next Google, the other time we felt so hopeless,” Hildah Moraa recalled.

Her first product was an innovation known as MyOrder that proofed to be a disastrous business undertaking. “MyOrder never even took off. We didn’t do enough research yet we put every effort in it.” She recalled that the moment they accepted that the product had failed was when they set on a journey to success. The idea of WezaTele was born out of a school project as Hildah pursued a degree in Business Information Technology at Strathmore University.

“The idea for the project came to me when I was working as a data analyst at a large global beverage and distribution company. I saw the challenges they faced within their distribution systems, so I conducted market research and documented those challenges then decided to develop an ordering solution prototype as my final year project,” she is quoted in the blog IBM Global Entrepreneur.

The project won the top prize at the 2011 Mobile BootCamp, a leading event for IT developers and tech enthusiasts. After graduation, she immediately embarked on furthering the idea beyond a school project. She joined hands with Sam Kitonyi who was working at Nailab, a local business incubator, and Newton Kitonga, who was at the time pursuing a Masters program at Strathmore University.

The trio founded Weza Tele. Currently, Weza Tele has more than 10 employees. In 2013, Weza Tele won the IBM global smart camp competition at the Tech4Africa conference. The firm has worked with several SME’s in various countries including Nigeria, Tanzania, Zimbambwe and Kenya. Her encouraging entrepreneurship journey is captured in her book “In a Kenyan Start up journey.”

This story was first published in The Standard Newspaper.

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