Interview between Molly Willats, Head of Program Development for Financial Health at Fintech Cadence and Tendai Nzuma and Vitalis Omambia, Co-Founders at Kunye, a current fintech in our IFH Lab 2022 Cohort.
Kunye is crossing borders and spanning oceans – using technology to help families meet their financial goals together, no matter how far apart they are. From simple remittances to truly borderless banking – Kuney’s co-founders Tendai Nzuma and Vitalis Omambia join us to speak about how their own experiences inspired them on their entrepreneurship journey.
What is Kunye, and what inspired you to take the leap into building a startup?
Tendai Nzuma (TN): Kunye is a shared mobile wallet that allows geographically dispersed families to chat, plan, track, and share payments to meet their collective financial goals.
Our lived experience as individuals living in one country and having responsibilities in another inspired my co-founders and I to start Kunye.
Vitalis Omambia (V.O.): We had this vision of providing borderless payment to migrants who want to participate economically and maximize social impact in the lives of loved ones abroad. As a migrant myself, I realized the existing mode of remittance payment does not bring the social aspect of things to help families living abroad to connect seamlessly and share the economic responsibilities on a need basis and create a lasting impact.
T.N.: Although we could send money abroad to meet our responsibilities, this still left us feeling distanced from the impact of those funds, and the lives of our loved ones. Upon speaking to other immigrants, we found that, especially for those that had a spouse and/or children in a different country, shared finances were almost impossible to manage, which was incredibly stressful, and put a strain on those relationships. All they wanted was the opportunity to manage their finances as though they were under one roof, with the ability to talk about, budget, pay their bills, save, share an account and review their progress against their goals. Hence, we set out to build just that.
What energizes you to keep going with Kunye, even when things aren’t going as planned?
T.N.: The opportunity to make meaningful change in my community energizes me. Knowing that, if we succeed, the lives of millions of individuals will be improved. As such the only failure would not be to try.
V.O.: The desire to create borderless banking. To reach the unbanked and create lasting relationships whilst creating impactful economies is what keeps me awake at night. Also, the opportunity to innovate around the existing structures to solve daily problems is another inspiration because the FinTech industry is on the rise today.
It’s exciting to hear you talk about macro and micro impacts - from individual families to banking as a system! And on that last point around the growing fintech industry, is there a change you would like to see in particular as part of that growth?
T.N.: In general, greater inclusion of products and services meant to serve the needs of the underserved – we are a part of making that happen, but there are still many gaps across different verticals.
We couldn’t agree more - that’s why we’re excited to support companies like Kunye through the IFH Lab. As founders, what has been the most important takeaway from your participation in the program?
T.N.: I think it has been the importance of building relationships. Whether it be mentors or other founders – these relationships are important for the success of the startup, and act as a collective knowledge and information base.
On the topic of knowledge, are there any books you’ve read as an entrepreneur that you would recommend?
V.O.: I recommend the book Profit First by Mike Michalowicz. It helped me realize that as an entrepreneur, I need to focus on my well-being, which means I need to pay myself first.
Focusing on your own well-being as an entrepreneur can be hard, so that is an important reminder! Is there any other career advice you’ve received that you can share?
V.O.: The true mark of a leader is the ability to get your hands dirty – get the work done and remember to be vulnerable. Be bold with the decisions you make and seek clarity from those you consider experts in a specific area. This way, you will be able to build a team and get to inspire others.
As a leader, how do you interpret your successes and your failures?
T.N.: I try to keep top of mind that you grow much more from failures than you do from wins.
Sometimes it can feel like 80% of being an entrepreneur is failing, so remembering to learn from those failures is so important! But it can be disheartening - what brings you joy when things feel tough?
V.O.: People and tea! I enjoy listening to the stories of individuals, what they are passionate about, and what brings them joy, especially if it’s over a cup of tea.
T.N.: Doing customer interviews always brings me joy.
Finally, do you have a motto that you try and live by?
b: Be grateful for the day, and express that gratitude by doing the work of the day.