Formerly known as Labadens, FiftyFor – or at least, its founder – was once a private investor. Refusing to believe that African SMEs were such ‘risky business’, Alec and his colleagues sought promising young businesses to invest in.
Things took a turn for the worse. One of Alec’s earliest investments performed a disappearing act and put Labadens in jeopardy.
With the continent so reliant on its informal sector, Alec noticed that what was missing in business for African SMEs was trust. Trust was transferred between companies as it was transferred through individuals – through recommendations of friends and family. Beyond a company’s immediate social network, there was no way of knowing who to trust. There was no sufficient system of accountability. To solve this problem: FiftyFor.
FiftyFor is a startup that seeks to improve the business landscape in Sub-Saharan Africa. FiftyFor seeks to facilitate trust in business through increasing accountability and establishing a network that transcends social distance. However, FiftyFor recognises that this must be done in a way that is tailored to the particularities of the world’s second largest continent. The platform digitises the ‘African way’ of exchanging trust to suit a wider, international network.
This is our founder and CEO, a.k.a. the guy who had his money stolen when investing in an African SME. The sad event fortunately led to the creation of FiftyFor, helping you do business in Africa.
Alec Fokapu, ladies and gentlemen!
Thinking like FiftyFor
This is a company with a philosophy – an attitude – that is almost as important as its product. While it is hard to put that attitude into learnable words, there are some key characteristics worth noting. This is not a tokenistic list of key values. Rather, it is a guide to thinking like FiftyFor.
FiftyFor is sceptical
Sceptical of African banks, who keep excessive liquid reserves and are reluctant to loan to SMEs and startups. Sceptical of international investors, who often fail to understand the important differences between African economies and their own. Sceptical of traditional methods of development, such as aid, which have failed to generate wealth and employment across the continent. Sceptical of traditional methods of accountability, which have been designed to operate in radically different economic environments. Sceptical of African governments which, often plagued by corruption and incompetence, have failed to distribute wealth or facilitate real growth.
FiftyFor is radical
Radical in its belief that Africa’s future will not be dictated by old, euro-centric methods of doing business, but rather new technologies tailored to the continent’s own history and needs. Radical in its vision of a democratised market that relies on networks rather than central forces. Radical, primarily, in its method of rating, which combines the consensus of a community with an algorithmic understanding of reliability.
Above all, FiftyFor is optimistic
Optimistic about the potential of Africa’s emerging economies, which are world leaders in technologies such as mobile money. Optimistic about its own ability to change the landscape of business in Africa. Optimistic about the younger generation and its desire to tread a new path. Optimistic about the role trust can play as the currency of the future global economy.
FiftyFor wants to disrupt the status quo and be part of something big. It wants to provide a launchpad for the emerging economies of Sub-Saharan Africa to jump onto the world stage. To this end, it believes in its mantra:
Business is trust.