Blog Post: Developing the Technology Ecosystem in the DRC
With CanGo being situated as a first mover in on demand services in Kinshasa, we’re uniquely placed to have a pivotal role in the development of the technology startup ecosystem in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Kinshasa is a megacity with some ten to fifteen million people, yet technology has still by and large not arrived. Sure, 3G and 4G fills the air and you can buy super cheap Android smartphones for twenty five dollars at the market, but technology has only become integral to a very small number of people. Walking down the streets sometimes feels like a nostalgia for the mid 90’s, before technology’s prevalence transformed cities. Smartphones are surprisingly prevalent at social functions and restaurants.
CanGo aspires to be a catalyst for the growth of the technology ecosystem here in Kinshasa. The lack of a developed technology ecosystem, in our opinion, is an incredible opportunity: it allows ourselves as tech pioneers to help nudge the ecosystem in creating empowering products for the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
We see the primary positive impact we can have as by leading by example. Right now in the DRC there are no self evident success stories for a startup to be inspired by. There has not been an Mpesa, an Andela or a Jumia in the DRC yet, which means that while many youth are inspired to dream of and build startups, they’re not quite sure what it takes to be successful. At CanGo we believe that if we can make success for ourselves, then we can trailblaze a path for others to follow. We hope our lessons on data led decision making, inhouse tech team, user experience research, raising capital, hiring awesome teams, putting culture in the heart of everything (and an over focus on warm lighting) can be practical examples for others to follow.
Many startups in Africa worry about copycats, we aspire to inspire them. The reason is not just altruism, but also in our strategic interest. In the United States and Europe, where the technology ecosystems are fully mature, the biggest challenge an entrepreneur often faces is coming up with a novel idea with a clear market opportunity. In Kinshasa, it’s very much the opposite: ideas are easy, there are so many unique challenges for entrepreneurs to make solutions for, however, there is so little supportive infrastructure that it is exceedingly hard to grow a startup. By working to bring more startups together, making more access to money, working to bring investors into the market we can put Kinshasa on the map. This will benefit CanGo and this will benefit every aspiring technology entrepreneur in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.