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Cracking the Code: Q&A with Catherine Maingi, the CFO Who Spices Up Africa 118 Inc.

Ever wondered how Africa 118 Inc. weaves financial magic to empower African businesses online?

Get ready to crack the code with our fearless CFO, Catherine Maingi.

Here is her story:

Tell us about yourself

I’m an accountant by profession with more than 15 years in the world of finances. Currently, I hold the role of CFO at Africa 118 Inc., crafting financial strategies that empower African SMEs to shine online. My heart truly lies in supporting the entrepreneurial spirit that burns bright across Africa. Joining a mission-driven agency like ours was the perfect fit.

What excites you most about being the CFO of Africa 118 Inc.?

Every single client success story. Seeing an SME go from a hidden gem to an online powerhouse, all thanks to our digital marketing magic – that’s pure joy. It’s knowing that our work creates jobs, fuels economic growth, and empowers communities across the continent.

Cracking the code:

Can you share a financial strategy you implemented at Africa 118 Inc. that turned the tide and fueled rapid growth?

Remember back in 2021, when the global Covid-19 hit? Let’s just say things got bumpy. Client budgets tightened, competition intensified, and we had to adapt fast.

One strategy that turned the tide for us was our “Digital Presence Pack” Model. We knew SMEs were hesitant to invest heavily in marketing during those uncertain times. So, we flipped the script. We offered clients this affordable toolkit to amplify their digital presence without breaking the bank. 

How do you translate data insights into actionable financial decisions that resonate with people?

I begin by understanding the bigger picture – the market trends, our client’s goals, and the unique challenges of the African business landscape. Additionally, I translate financial decisions into real-world outcomes – new jobs created, communities empowered, and dreams achieved. This emotional connection resonates deeply with our team and stakeholders.

Let’s talk about challenges:

 What emerging trends are you keeping an eye on, and how will Africa 118 Inc. adapt its financial strategies to stay ahead of the curve?

I closely monitor the evolution of fintech, e-commerce, and digital payment trends in Africa. To stay ahead, Africa 118 Inc. is proactively investing in innovative financial technologies, and fostering strategic partnerships to leverage emerging opportunities in the digital landscape.

How does Africa 118 Inc. ensure its financial practices create a positive impact on the communities it serves?

We maintain the highest standards of financial transparency and ethical conduct. This includes fair wages, responsible sourcing, and compliance with all local and international regulations. By setting a positive example, we hope to inspire other businesses to adopt similar practices.

Finance with a human touch:

Numbers can be intimidating, but you have a knack for explaining them in an engaging and relatable way. Share your secrets! 

Numbers are important, but the real impact lies in the human stories they reveal. Africa 118’s strategic partnership with development agencies translates data into jobs created, communities empowered, and dreams achieved. This emotional connection resonates far deeper than any spreadsheet ever could. 

Empowering your journey:

What financial advice would you give an aspiring African entrepreneur with a big dream but limited resources to kickstart their online journey?

Focus on value, not just price:  Competing on price alone can be a race to the bottom. Instead, focus on delivering unique value and exceptional customer service. Build a loyal following who appreciate your brand and are willing to advocate for you, even if you can’t offer the lowest price.

What are the common financial pitfalls for businesses in Africa?  

Many entrepreneurs suffer from the lack of financial buffers against operating losses, unclear unit economics and improper budgeting. My advice to African Entrepreneurs? Do your research, create a realistic budget, and factor in hidden costs before you launch your business. Build resilience right from the start.

On work-life balance, what are your hobbies?

Travel fuels my creativity and connects me to diverse cultures. It’s not just about ticking destinations, it’s about immersive experiences that inform my work. Reading, on the other hand, lets me escape and recharge, offering lessons that influence my approach to work. Both passions work together, nourishing my mind and making me a better leader.

What is your favourite food? 

You might raise an eyebrow at my culinary choices, but as a CFO raised in the potato-centric Kenyan highlands, my heart truly belongs to two unexpected dishes: chicken biryani and eggs!

Biryani isn’t just a meal; it’s a flavour fiesta that whisks me back to bustling markets and joyful family gatherings. Eggs, on the other hand, are my ultimate comfort food. They offer a blank canvas for culinary creativity that fuels my brain. 

Finally, as the CFO of a company dedicated to empowering African businesses online, what’s your vision for the future of Africa’s digital economy?

I envision a digital landscape where every African business, no matter its size or location, has the tools and resources to thrive online. Access to affordable internet, relevant digital skills, and supportive financial solutions will be crucial in bridging the digital divide and empowering even the most remote communities.

To learn more about Africa 118 Inc., visit LinkedInFacebook, and Twitter.

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