Episode 20: Building Malawi's Leading Fintech Startup with Bram Fudzulani

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About Bram Fudzulani

Bram Fudzulani is the co-founder of Angle Dimension, Malawi’s leading fintech software developer.

You can connect with him @ Bram Fudzulani on Linkedin and @BramNE on Twitter.

Bram is passionate about developing in-house software solutions to problems in Malawi’s finance and insurance sectors. While he worked full-time at Malawi’s leading ISP, he and his co-founders would meet up in their spare time – after work, weekends and holidays – to work on their side hustle, building bespoke software solutions to local problems. 

After a big break – and check – from an insurance client, Bram and his co-founders decided to make a go at turning their side hustle into a full-fledged company. Angle Dimension was born. Over the years, Bram has developed B2B products for micro-finance institutions, commercial banks, and insurance companies.

He’s just developed a platform for unbanked Malawians who organize into savings groups for disbursing loans. They’ll now be able to deposit and withdraw mobile money from the platform, facilitating the savings process.

Bram is also the Vice President of Malawi’s ICT Association and is passionate about Internet governance and net neutrality.

We chatted about the benefits of using tenders when you first start out, the cultural pushback he faced when pitching clients, his first product flop, and why everyone should be concerned about net neutrality in Africa.

Without further ado, here’s my conversation with Bram Fudzulani.

What We Learn from Bram – Test your Business Idea as a Side Hustle

Bram only set up Angle Dimension, his fintech software development company, as a full-time business after doing it as a side hustle for five years. While he was working full-time at Malawi’s leading internet service provider, Sky Band, he built up his network of potential future clients and tested software solutions in the finance and insurance industries.

Bram’s Actionable Tips

  1. Join an innovation hub. You’ll meet like-minded people with whom you can share ideas and resources.
  2. Tender for projects when you’re first starting out. There are drawbacks — like having to compete with other bidders — but it’s a viable model when you’re bootstrapping.
  3. Take advantage of Microsoft Azure’s developer tools, which teach you how to host and scale your applications. It’s a free service until you commercialize your product.

Bram’s Top Quotes

  • "No one has ever achieved great things in life without taking a risk. So I had to take a risk.”
  •  [On pitching clients] “The most important aspect that I usually tell potential customers is, “Look, there's no one who is going to understand our problems better than ourselves,’
  • "If you're explaining an idea to a group of people and they think you are crazy, you have a great idea.”

Bram’s Links

Bram’s Mentions

Key Timestamps

  • Bram’s current project at Angle Dimension [3:03]
  • Why Bram left his full-time job [4:29]
  • Bram’s big break [10:07]
  • Using a tender model [13:42]
  • The cultural challenge he faced [15:12]
  • Developing B2B fintech and insurtech products [16:20]
  • His client pitch [20:41]
  • How he got the attention of a large bank for his informal savings group product [24:37]
  • Plans to scale & fundraising [27:09]
  • Joining Malawi’s ICT Association [29:09] 
  • His advocacy for Net Neutrality [20:08]
  • A story from Malawi that illustrates why he passionately advocates for Internet for all [32:58]
  • His biggest product flop [35:21]
  • Free resources for software development [39:27]
  • His advice to budding entrepreneurs [41:46]
  • Where he’d go on a 1-year sabbatical to improve his business [43:18]