The Zoona Story, As Told by Co-founder Brad Magrath

Zoona co-founder Brad McGrath tells his story,as Startup Grind facilitator Sandras Phiri looks on

We all see the green booths, money being endlessly handed over to be sent to loved ones. With nothing more than an identity card and a cellphone, money reaches recipients in seconds. The name of the service? Zoona.

The idea came to Brad Magrath’s mind at 4 in the morning years back, after a few attempts at businesses that just didn’t work out for him and his brother. They talked more about it later that day and Zoona was born.

How did they get the money to start the business?

Initially capital to start the business was hard to source locally because every financial institution wanted collateral which they didn’t have at the time, and thus Brad, his brother and other partners had to look to the United States of America to get funding. Luckily they managed to get investors and partners that believed in the idea.

What is Zoona about behind the scenes?

At the front end we know it’s a mobile money service, but in the back it really tries to empower the people who work within. Zoona agents are independent business owners, and Zoona provides initial training and even working capital to partners that want to become agents countrywide. The mobile money company has also been recognised as one of the top firms in the world that employs a larger proportion of women in its workforce.

Brad emphasised also that the company encourages its employees to be entrepreneurial, and only hires people that they know have that spirit and can take the business to the next level. Zoona does not want to create dependency but an opportunity for all its partners.

Image Credit: Startup Grind (with a few amendments)

Advice from Brad to startups in Zambia: 

  • To talk less and do more. He meets so many entrepreneurs that speak about their plans all the time but never really act on them.
  • He urged startup creators to be careful of the investors they partner with. They should be well aligned with the business’ goals.
  • Before starting out on a business venture, one should look in the mirror and ask themselves if they are ready for the journey, and also be ready to enjoy it despite the initial challenges.
  • Surround oneself with awesome, creative thinkers. Hire people who are not similar to yourself. Get different types of people, but only those who can bring something different yet beneficial for the growth of the business.
  • Focus on your customer’s needs being met as a priority, develop trust, and see your business explode to greater heights

Conclusion: If you are still trying to get that business of yours on the ground, don’t wait any longer. Do what you have to do, sacrifice what you have to now, and you’ll be thankful later. Startup Grind was inspiring and we look forward to the next one.


Tech Blogger & Marketer.