The startup Dothan Group had Special mention of the jury at "L'Arbres à Palabres" Hackathon. His project is a mobile app for simplified accounting.
Interview with Fabrice Koffi, founder and CEO of Dothan Group
What’s the story behind your project and what sparked the idea?
In 2013, I spent a year as an intern with an accounting firm. I enjoyed it so much that I decided to go freelance, offering accounting services and advice to small businesses. Two years later, I founded my own firm with two associates. This initial entrepreneurial adventure lasted until 2017. The more I got to know the companies I worked with, the more obvious it became that the management software used by small-scale businesses were too complicated for their actual needs. They were also totally inappropriate as regards the financial information they required for their own business needs. That’s when I got the idea for Keiwa, a simplified accounting app. The name comes from a dialect spoken in Ivory Coast and refers to a traditional belt used by shopkeepers to manage the revenues from their business.
In what ways is your project innovative?
Keiwa is nothing less than the very first accounting app designed specifically for the informal economy in Africa. It is innovative in the way in operates, because it can be used by anyone - professionals and non-professionals alike.
What does Lab Innovation represent for you, what were your expectations for the Lab and what advantages does that give you?
That’s a lot of questions (smiles). Through its Lab, Societe Generale offers us a unique opportunity to work together and co-build our projects with other startups. So I really expect this cooperative approach to be a winner for everyone. For us, in concrete terms, this special award from the jury should give us the boost we need to carry out our project and find its first outlets. The Lab environment enables us to build a viable product at African level and even global level.
What are the benefits of your project for the African market?
Keiwa will help structure the African market for small businesses by improving data flows and enhancing transparency within the various sectors of activity.
How do you see your startup 10 years from now?
I see a great future for us, in line with my ambitions. So I imagine our startup will have become a global company present in every country on the African continent.
What would you say is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
The most tangible piece of advice came from Shilpa Vaish, an expert from the Societe Generale Global Solution Centre team, during the Learning expedition in Bangalore. In the course of a workshop, she asked us to take inspiration from the economic model used by Netflix. That piece of advice confirmed the strategy I planned to use in terms of pricing. Above all, it influenced the way we’re going to transition from a free to a paying app, keeping our users on board.