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Will this Kenyan firm be Africa's first billion dollar company?

Kenya , 22 Feb 2018

Will this Kenyan firm be Africa's first billion dollar company?

Africa does not yet have its own homegrown billion dollar company, but if Kamal Budhabhatti is to be believed, the first one might come from Kenya.

Budhabhatti is CEO of Craft Silicon, the Nairobi-based software house that provides software solutions for sectors such as banking, microfinance, switching and electronic payments.

Launched in 2000, the company now serves more than 200 companies spanning more than 30 countries across four continents. Given Craft Silicon has thus far focused on white label products, many people remain unaware they utilise its services, but Budhabhatti is confident the company will continue to grow as it expands into new verticals.

"Africa has never been able to come up with a billion dollar company, but keep an eye on us," he told the Dot Finance Summit Africa, which is taking place in Kigali, Rwanda this week.

"Nobody in the world was ever able to get a customer's location on USSD. We were the first to do that. And now with that information we are able to come up with products for those customers."

Having collected vast amounts of data on customers across Africa, the company is now busy expanding into other verticals. In 2016, it partnered mobile operator Safaricom to launch taxi app Little, an Uber competitor which has since expanded across Kenya and into Nigeria.

In May of last year, it invested in Kenyan restaurant-booking startup EatOut, and it is now helping the company develop a digital payments platform that will allow customers to pay for meals bought at the listed restaurants.

Budhabhatti said Craft Silicon is moving into other areas, starting with healthcare, as it looks to expand its operations and use its massive supply of data to inform its investment decisions.

"Now that we have this massive ecosystem, the next thing we can do is build the verticals," he said. "With all the data we collect we are now trying to do the verticals. It is all about the data."

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