Your name and what do you do?
My name is Ahmed Maawy. I am a Social Entrepreneur, being the Executive Director at M-Power. We aim to transform the technology landscape in Mombasa by extending the Silicon Savannah that is there in Nairobi to Mombasa.
We are currently coming up with SwahiliBox, which is the Technology Hub that will be based in Mombasa. The SwahiliBox will be very much like the iHub (which is an open space in Nairobi for technologists and various other technology stakeholders), and we envision that it will drastically change the technology landscape in Mombasa. The iHub’s impact on the Nairobi Technology space is huge in itself, it is one of the main forces behind the transformation of Nairobi into the Technology Force that it is now.
Where did you grow up in Mombasa?
I mostly grew up in Ganjoni.
What do you like about Mombasa?
Mombasa’s people are more down to earth and social, and they are of course much easier to get along with in social functions. Even the politicians are more approachable in Mombasa and are themselves more out going.
What is one habit of a coastarian that annoys you?
We talk more act a lot less. I believe we like to make noise that we do not have opportunities when we are ourselves not willing to do anything about getting them in the first place.
Where do you see yourself ten years from now?
I like to have been responsible for making Mombasa the next technology destination in Africa.
Who inspires you?
The Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.). His brief few years of leadership brought a system of civilization that has benefited mankind for more than 1400 years. He inspired people to success in ways that no other leader has ever done, and did this with the highest moral standard and moral code of conduct. He was also a leader by example. He preached what he practiced himself.
What is your greatest failure, and what did you learn from it?
Partnerships. It is always tough to find the right people to work with. People with drive, ambition, and most of all, loyalty and trust. The mistakes I have made with partnerships have been costly in so many ways in my professional life.
What do you consider a good customer service?
Service that is honest and respectful. That you say things the way they are honestly, not that you cheat to retain customers. I would prefer a service where people get treated with honesty, and at the same time with a great amount of respect, over a service where lies are used to retain customers.
Give three points on successfully starting a business.
1. Team: The right team. The right attitude. The right focus. And a team you can depend on not to go behind your back.
2. Product: You need to have a product or service that can work.
3. Discipline: The team also needs to have the discipline to make the product a success.
I think simply Mombasa has a lot of potential and brilliant people. But we surely need to build on “what it takes” to make it a success story in Africa.