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Shaping The Future Of African Commerce Through Vertical Integration With Daniel Yu (Founder & CEO of Wasoko)

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Show Notes

Quote - “The spirit of Afropolitan, and why I'm so excited about the community that's being built, is to connect one of the most powerful forces in the world, which is human communities, to the fastest growing place in the world, which is the African continent.”

The Afropolitan Podcast highlights Afropolitans who embrace the unknown and walk with purpose. Through this podcast, we aim to empower Africans in the Diaspora to maximize their potential and contribute to the development of a vibrant and progressive black community.

In this episode, we chat with Daniel Yu, Founder & CEO of Wasoko, a technology company that is transforming the $600 billion market for essential goods sold through mom-and-pop stores in Africa. Wasoko provides on-demand ordering, delivery, and financing services to these small retailers. Wasoko's platform enables shop owners to place orders at any time via SMS or a mobile app, and offers free same-day delivery of goods directly to their stores. Additionally, Wasoko provides "Pay Later" financing options to support the growth of these shops. The company operates in several African countries, including Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, Côte d'Ivoire, and Senegal, and collaborates with major companies such as Unilever and Procter & Gamble. Wasoko has raised over $145 million in equity financing from investors like Tiger Global and Avenir Growth Capital, making it one of the largest tech companies in Africa.

Daniel Yu is an entrepreneur and software developer with extensive experience working and traveling in over 65 countries, primarily in emerging economies such as Africa, the Middle East, Central America, Brazil, Southeast Asia, and China. He is skilled at exploring markets and building networks to effectively launch technology-driven businesses. Daniel is conversational or fluent in eight languages: English (native), Mandarin, Swahili, Arabic, Spanish, Cantonese, Portuguese, and French.

Daniel is passionate about leveraging technology and innovation to transform the retail landscape in emerging economies, empowering small businesses, and making a positive social impact across Africa. Join us as Daniel discusses his journey with Wasoko and the importance of digital technology and services to solve Africa’s supply chain problems.

Daniel’s Reading List:

  1. Doing Good Better: How Effective Altruism Can Help You Help Others, Do Work that Matters, and Make Smarter Choices about Giving Back by William MacAskill -
  2. Shoe Dog by Phil Knight -
  3. Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder -

Show Notes

2:00 Daniel breaks down his background and what led him to Africa as an entrepreneur
3:27 Daniel, as the founder and CEO of Wasako, has been working to transform commerce in Africa and tells us the problem it aims to solve
4:49 Daniel details the monetization model of Wasoko
5:16  Daniel talks about some of the assumptions he had of this commerce model and what challenges he faced going to market
6:54 Daniel talks about the importance of startups to vertical integrate in Africa to ensure successful delivery of their chosen offerings and how the process of building in Africa differs from being in California, where certain aspects are already taken care of, and the focus is primarily on software development
8:20 Daniel explains why he started in certain African countries compared to others and the cultural differences experienced in each country
10:09 Daniel paints the customer onboarding process early on
11:16 Daniel details the early stages of a startup and the struggles you have to go through
12:37 Daniel talks about his educational background and how It informed the work he does today
13:22 Daniel explains how he learnt to be a programmer without completing formal education
14:01 Daniel gives his view on the future of commerce and supply chains evolving in Africa and the role Wasoko will play in the future
16:11 Daniel clarifies the customer acquisition of Wasoko
16:40 Daniel talks about his approach to risk taking and decision making especially in uncertain or rapidly changing environments and the most important qualities or skills that an entrepreneur should possess in order to succeed in today's competitive business landscape, especially in Africa
17:50 Books that have profoundly impacted Daniel’s life
20:17 Daniel gives advice to entrepreneurs hiring talent, especially in markets like Africa where talent may not be highly skilled as places like California and how he addressed these challenges
23:08 Daniel has worked in different industries, including finance, healthcare and technology and breaks down his approach to the process of identifying new opportunities and deciding which ventures to proceed or invest in
24:28 Hypothetical title of a book about Daniel’s life
25:35 Daniel’s perspective on what it means to be Afropolitan

The Afropolitan Podcast is hosted by Eche Emole, co-founder of Afropolitan.
Listen and subscribe to the show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Jamit, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Connect with Afropolitan:
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Website -

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