Getting reliable consumer data in Africa is not about technology! It's about people
When we embarked on the KASI Insight journey in 2013, we were frustrated by the lack of (plain, simple, raw) data from Africa. As diaspora entrepreneurs, it was almost impossible to get timely data to make informed decisions on our investment in Africa so we lost a lot of time and money in the process. According to the World Bank, Africa received close to $35 billion in remittance in 2015 so even if only 1% of that amount is lost as a result of poor or lack of data, its $350 million wasted! The challenge with getting data from Africa is mostly a result of the local environment: socio-cultural, economic and political. In countries like Nigeria or Ghana, a sizeable portion of the economic activity happens in the shadow. It’s the informal economy. At KASI Insight, we call it the “Emerging economy”. Why? Well the informal economy has been driving many African countries for decades now. Credit has been flowing (sure it’s mostly peer-to-peer or via tontine but its still credit), people have been running successful businesses, sending kids to school or even abroad. One can argue all this is happening by the grace of God.
So we quickly came to the conclusion that we needed to embrace the informal economy if we were to get something out of it. Unlike the developed world where most of the information is logged into computers, mobile phones or other devices, the information in Africa remain stored in people’s heads. After close to 2 years collecting data via our in-house platform in 7 countries in Africa, we have now engaged with more than 40,000 respondents and collected over one million data points. We have a robust and proven system. We have data and insights to prove it. Understandably, we get asked by clients about the mobile data collection. The argument is that high mobile penetration in Africa makes the mobile phone the best tool to reach. If it is true that mobile is one of the best way to reach, it’s not the best tool to deploy surveys and target people with purchase power. Another drawback of mobile is the inability to run long and complex surveys. In addition to low response rate and implementation issues. Our data collection process is part of a framework developed by our team of experts in market research, crowdsourcing, psychology and statistics.
We treat our respondents as part of our community. We find them in their environment and our contextual incentive program means that they are willing to participate and engage with us. Our response rate is consistently above 90%. We beat mobile and face to face where we collect.
Trust but verify: Trust is important in the informal economy. Deals and loans are signed by verbal consent. The community often acts as pressure on participants to behave well otherwise they will face exclusion. We have implemented checks and controls during our collection process (daily monitoring) and after our collection (repeats, frauds, etc.). Historically, we have averaged 10 rejects per 1000 respondents. We are continuously improving the process.
Is the data reliable? After over 1 million responses from 7 different countries, our respondents profile is consistent with data from reputable sources. Even better, we are now one of few providers who can really say they target the African middle class.
Is the data valid? In Kenya, our data on mobile banking shows M-Pesa is the dominant player. In Cameroon, our data on peer-to-peer lending shows a default rate similar to the official bank default rate. In Ghana, our data shows mobile banking is still in its infancy compared to Kenya and that Airtel is leader in that region of Africa. We are constantly comparing our results against known sources to ensure that we get genuine participation from our respondents.
Is the process robust and reliable? Yes, we are able to collect (repeatedly) data (consumer data) from a specific demographic in Africa (faster and better) than face to face and mobile. Next time you see a nice deck by a mobile survey provider, ask them what kind of insights they have already on their target market, what kind of data products they have built. At KASI, we see beyond data, we provide insights that will amaze any marketer looking to understand the fast growing consumer market of Africa. Over the next couple of weeks, we will launch our new site and get the word out. Our clients can trust us because we have a proven data capability and even better we can provide insights today on a target market we know better than a lot of our competitors: African middle class. The reliable data revolution in Africa starts September 12th!
For more information about KASI Insight or to receive a free quote, go to www.kasiinsight.com.
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