Joseph Rutakangwa: Founder & CEO, Rwazi
Managing a network of 10,000 freelancers, keeping your startup team focused, and identifying self-limiting beliefs with an executive coach to unlock business growth
About our Guest
This episode’s conversation is with Joseph Rutakangwa, Founder and CEO of Rwazi, a data services company providing organizations with on-ground data on products, services, and activities from developing countries. He has received several awards including the Southern Africa Startup Awards for Brave Founder of the Year and a nomination for the Global Startup Awards' People's Choice. Apart from his work at Rwazi, Rutakangwa advises several early-stage startups such as Eco-Blocks, a UNDP-endorsed startup based in Mauritius that produces artificial coral reefs, and Ecopads, a US-based startup providing eco-friendly sanitary pads. He believes that creating gig work is the most effective approach to reducing unemployment in developing countries.
Everyday Leadership in Action
Here are a few highlights from the conversation with Joseph:
Managing a network of freelancers involves understanding and building around their day-to-day incentives and motivations: Joseph’s startup Rwazi works with over 10,000 freelance data collectors. These “mappers” must opt-in to take on specific assignments, which has led to the need to price and schedule assignments to ensure there will be enough submissions to gain a minimum sample sizes for his clients. He also uses a team of local field auditors to confirm accuracy. Joseph also recently made a strategic investment in a partner company, KrediblePro, founded by another ALU alum, as part of their partnership to conduct reference checks of new mappers when they join their network in cases where specific skills are required.
Too much integration of different department teams can lead to distractions or office politics: As a startup founder, Joseph has found it helpful to keep his different teams in silos (one focused on maintaining the mapper network and the other focused on serving company clients). While he keeps his team leaders aware of high-level strategy, his teams enjoy being able to focus on their core work areas, which gives them ownership and focus.
Identify self-limiting beliefs with an executive coach to unlock business growth opportunities: Joseph worked with an executive coach, alongside his ongoing business mentorship support. His coaching sessions focused on more deeply understanding his leadership style and business decision making frameworks. During his conversations with his coach, he identified a number of self-limiting beliefs that, despite his startup’s strong start, were holding him back from truly unleashing the potential of his company’s business model. One mental barrier that he held was the assumption that he should double down on his business’ focus on Africa. But when he reexamined this assumption with his coach, through the lens of his ambition for what he wanted to achieve for his company and other intrinsic motivations, he realized that he didn’t have a strong answer to why he wasn’t already capable of expanding his business development efforts to other markets. Within a few months of changing his mindset, his business’s monthly revenue had increased by 10x.
The Everyday Leader is a podcast featuring conversations with leaders from across Africa’s companies, organizations, and governments about their experience managing teams and projects throughout their careers.
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