Startup Spotlight- ZPOS

Co-founded by Chisepo Chirwa in 2016, ZPOS (Outsource Now) is a shop management Point of Sale System that helps retailers oversee all important transactions of their businesses. The system records all transactions and keeps track of stock levels. From the recorded transactions, it lets retailers know whether they are making a profit or not. 

During his childhood, Chisepo’s mother used to run several retail shops, and it was from there that he was inspired to venture into entrepreneurship. 

“When I was 10 years old, I started working in one of my mother’s shops and I saw the challenges that she was facing in managing her shops. When I went to college to study Computer Science, I learnt the numerous things that could be built using technology and the desire to build ZPOS was born.”

in 2012, Chisepo and his friends built the first version of the shop management system but they ran out of capital a year later and couldn’t finance the business. A few years later, Chisepo had an opportunity to work for Musanga, a logistics company as the first Chief Operating Officer. It was there that he saw that it was possible to build his dream again. Inspired by Musanga CEO and founder Njavwa Mutambo who participated in our Launch Accelerator programme, Chisepo also decided to join the programme. Launch is a programme meant for early-stage startups who want to scale their businesses.

“Through Launch, BongoHive helped get ZPOS on the ground. So far, we have served over 400 retail shops and we plan to reach 11,000 shops in Zambia and expand beyond the region.”

Despite launching ZPOS and successfully serving small scale retailers, ZPOS, like any other startup had challenges setting up and still face challenges as they operate. Chisepo explains: “We are the pioneers of this point of sale system for small scale retailers and this means that we had to build the system from scratch. There was nowhere to copy from and we spent many hours with prospective users at that time, understanding how they operate. Being the pioneer of this solution also means building other services around the point of sale systems such as credit, insurance, delivery, and many more other services. We believe small scale retailers are the backbone of the African economy and so we have rolled out our sleeves to build something dedicated for the small scale retailers.”      

Chisepo also mentions that talent acquisition was another issue that the startup faced. It was quite difficult to find the right and skilled developers from the few that exist. 

Fundraising is another challenge that the startup faces.

“Investors are usually looking for businesses that are serving large markets. Zambia is a growing market, funding opportunities are limited. But that is not to say you can’t raise money here, we have managed to raise over USD 200,000 in investments.”

Chisepo also participated in the first cohort of the Thrive Investor Readiness programme which we conduct in partnership with Prospero and Village Capital. ZPOS is currently fundraising and Chisepo admits that the lessons from the Thrive programme are proving to be important”

Chisepo mentions that the business has plans of expanding ZPOS to launch other services.

“We have gotten into strategic partnerships that will help us grow. One of them is with Emsika, an e-commerce platform where farmers can buy a variety of raw farming inputs that are delivered to them.

We are also in partnership with Musika, an organisation that facilitates partnerships in the agro sector. We are working with agro-dealers to help them serve farmers better. We also intend on partnering with FMCGs so that we continue impacting small scale retailers as they serve customers. 

When asked about the impact of the business, Chisepo had this to say:

“We have helped 400 businesses to improve how they operate and a good number of those businesses have raised financial credit to grow their businesses based on the reports generated from our system. It’s exciting for us to build the technology needed to advance small scale retailers and we are happy to be contributors of impactful technology to our economy. We hope that other players can come to the market to build something similar.”

ZPOS has won multiple awards among them include:

  • Best African business during Swiss Africa Business Innovation Summit- 2018
  • Best FinTech Service for Youth and Women-2018
  • JICA’s top 3 best businesses for Covid Opportunity competition
  • Winner of the ITC Africa Arena Challenge.

At BongoHive, we are eager to see startups grow and even more eager to be part of the growth. You could also be part of our community by joining any of our programmes that is suitable for you. Have a look at our programmes page to see what opportunities are available.