The beauty of being an entrepreneur is to try new and different things; make mistakes and even fail once or twice, but fail quickly, get up and do it again and again and learn from your mistakes- Dave van Niekerk, CEO and founder MyBucks Group
As a fintech pioneer in Africa, Dave van Niekerk, the CEO and co-founder of MyBucks has witnessed first-hand Africa’s growth in Micro-finance over the last 15 years. With this growth fuelling his passion, he has promoted investment in many African countries and continues to create trailblazing business models that make financial inclusion for people across the continent a reality. A feted servant-leader with his employees’ interest at heart, he is an inspiration.
As the Vision carrier of MyBucks; a firm that champions for financial inclusion by tapping into the Technological upsurge in Africa and beyond, many have been empowered through what started as one man’s vision and grown into an empire. With major business listings in Johannesburg Stock Exchange and the Frankfurt-Stock Exchange, he is man to watch in the Micro-Finance sector. Dave shares on what drives him as the CEO and how his team intend to keep pace with new technological advancement to maintain a competitive edge in micro-finance.
- Who is Dave van Niekerk?
I am an entrepreneur at heart and have successfully built two Micro-finance businesses operating across Africa.I am a forward thinker and driven by success – not only my success but that of my staff and the people we empower through credit and access to financial services.
Both businesses have been listed – one on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and most recently, one on the Frankfurt-Stock Exchange.
- What are your roles at MyBucks Group?
I am the CEO and Co- Founder of MyBucks. I am responsible for the overall strategy of the business. Passionate about the technology that will drive our business and give MyBucks competitive edge, I actively get involved in the innovation side of the business.
- What is challenging about your role as the CEO?
As the CEO of a listed entity, one of the most challenging bit is balancing my time between executing operations, ensuring my staff remain motivated, driving the strategy of the company and ensuring that my shareholders are engaged and up to date on the developments at the company.
- Major highlights of your career so far?
I am fortunate enough to have a number of highlights in my career. Not many people can claim to have started and sustained two successful businesses that change and improve people’s lives.
Some of the key highlights that stand out for me include:
- Listing MyBucks on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange in 2016
- Growing staff members over a span of 15 years and watching them flourish
- What are the main lessons that you have learnt in your career thus far?
Don’t ever give up on your dreams. Failure will happen along the way but you need to pick yourself up and learn from it for the future.
Business must also be flexible to an ever-changing environment – both macro and regulatory. Be open to embrace the technology and the digital revolution we are now in as a company. If you don’t adapt and take the opportunity to be part of this, you won’t have a business tomorrow.
- Tell us about MyBucks expansion strategy in African and across the world?
MyBucks is all about driving financial inclusion using cutting-edge digital technology and our established brands, GetBucks, GetSure and GetBanked. We are now operational in 12 African countries, two European countries – Poland and Spain and most recently in Australia.
We are constantly looking for growth opportunities on the African continent and in Europe and East Asia.
Specifically, in Africa, we have used technology to allow greater access to financial service products that the traditional bricks and mortar banks could not do.
- In view of the above, what has worked and what has not?
The beauty of digital revolution is that it is agile and can be adapted and revised to change match new trends. At MyBucks we have both a Tech team that constantly develops new products, as well as an in-house Artificial Intelligence (AI) team that are looking at big data and creating new and innovative ways of doing business that will enhance our services in the marketplace while equally balancing the internal risk to the business.
What does not work?
Not looking ahead and being aware of what is going on in such a fast-paced environment. As a CEO, I am the one to set the pace and I need to be sure that I have the right team around me to help me accomplish this.
- What advice would you give to entrepreneurs on failure and success?
The beauty of being an entrepreneur is to try new and different things; so yes you will make mistakes and even fail once or twice, but fail quickly, get up and do it again and again and learn from your mistakes.
When you succeed remember it is a joint effort between you and your strong team and support system so acknowledge and recognize people for their contribution.
Most importantly, don’t let success change the person you were when you first started out. Stay humble and be true to your team!
- Any advice to other ventures looking to set up operations in Africa?
Look for local partnerships. Now more than ever before, you need local partners in the markets. You need local shareholders and directors that understand the flow of the land; the legislative environment and the socio-political dynamics. Having that day-to-day, on-the-ground knowledge is invaluable. You can’t launch in the African markets anymore without having a local partner.
Secondly, learn to be patient; things can sometimes take longer than expected. But if you’re committed, in the long run you will get there.
Thirdly, remember that each country has its own culture and you need to be aware of, and respect, cultural differences in each country – those of your clients, staff and local partners. It certainly is a worth investment to understand your stakeholders dynamics.
- What are the emerging trends you see disrupting financial intermediation?
In today’s technology driven world, there are a number of “disruptors” in the industry from the Internet of things (IoT), the rise of InsurTech to Chatbots and machine learning.
At the forefront of disruption in our industry are biometric access, blockchain and Artificial Intelligence (AI). All three of these things are going to change the way we do business with customers from know your customer (KYC) payment systems, through to how it interacts with social media.