Irish-based, Zimbabwean-founded fintech startup Xpensi plans Sub-Saharan African expansion

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Zimbabwean entrepreneur Iphi Mhlanga is based in Ireland, where he has launched software as a service (SaaS) expense management and employee engagement platform Xpensi. Soon, however, he will take the business to African shores.

Currently operating with Irish and British clients, Xpensi digitises the expense reimbursement cycle for businesses through a web app that allows a user to capture and submit their expenses. 

At present the product allows companies to choose a subscription plan, add team members and add or approve expenses on the go by linking the process to the company’s accounts payable email address. 

Mhlanga came up with the idea for the platform while working for a tech conferencing company. He noticed that while the other offerings in the market gave the company the ability to receive expenses, there was no way to analyse the related data in real-time. He joined forces with Keith Taurai, another Zimbabwean, to launch Xpensi to solve this problem.

“Most market players offer a unique value proposition to their potential customer. From a high-level perspective, the market could be deemed to be segregated along standalone providers and bundled providers offering another service additionally to expense management along with multi-app integrations. Other expense providers focus on niche sectors,” Mhlanga said.

Xpensi offers a dedicated solution to customers, though uptake has been slow thus far. Mhlanga attributes this to the nature of the SaaS B2B market, which requires a significant amount of investment in marketing to ensure a message reaches appropriate decision-makers. 

“Over the next two quarters the focus will be to refine how we target our audience to ensure that our cost of acquisition is lower than the lifetime value. Key to this would be to determine the appropriate brand personality,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mhlanga and Taurai will be looking for funding. Self-funded thus far, Xpensi is seeking the seed investment necessary to help it scale.

“Competitors in our industry spend an average of US$100 per day, whilst we spend US$5. However, this is an advantage to us because we are then able to run multiple experiments to refine our targeting and ensure that the right people get hold of the product,” Mhlanga said. 

“Xpensi’s product roadmap is robust and as such we feel that with the appropriate investment partner we can certainly make Xpensi a huge success. With energetic founders and a strong advisor team we are confident of success.”

The roadmap also includes rollouts back in Africa, though Zimbabwe is not a priority. Mhlanga said it would initially focus on South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria. 

“Xpensi is always keen to talk to businesses in these locations and offer them our product for a free 30-day trial. At every stage of the process, we will ensure through our customer support, that businesses get the most out of the platform,” he said.

“Both founders, being from the continent, understand the pain points and appreciate that technology can change the way business is done and that Africa is ready to be at the forefront in business transformation. Africa is going through a generation-defining change and technology is at the heart of it. Xpensi can and wants to invest in that story.”

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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