Listen to LoA's interview with Suzana Moreira, founder of moWoza in Maputo, Mozambique. Recorded at the Cartier Women's Initiative Awards finalists press conference in Johannesburg on 28 July 2015.
Suzana Moreira is the founder of moWoza in Mozambique, a company that provides informal cross-border traders in Southern Africa with a mobile information service on pricing and access to goods. Originally from South Africa, Suzana Moreira moved to Mozambique 3 years ago to launch her mobile commerce platform, moWoza. MoWoza is the contraction of the word “mobile” and the Zulu word “woza”, meaning “to come” or “to run”. Suzana explains: “The service is about running for our customers”. In addition to its four employees, the company works with delivery men and women operating on a commission basis. Retailers in rural or semi-urban communities in Mozambique usually travel to South Africa to replenish their stock – this requires carrying large amounts of cash. The vast majority of informal cross-border traders are women who leave their families to make this long and risky journey. “We have spoken to ladies who, in 18 years, only managed to spend one or two weekends with their families because they were always on the road”, says Suzana. A mobile commerce platform, MoWoza offers access to products without having to travel. Store owners order the inventory they need by simply sending an SMS. Suzana and her team then source the goods and deliver them directly to the shops. In the future, moWoza intends to expand its focus to include financial services with the aim of improving access to credit for its customers. “One of the biggest constraints our customers are facing is that they can’t apply for credit. We would like to ensure that all our customers become mobile-banked. If they constantly place orders with us and if we can keep a history of their transactions, it can make their life a lot easier when they apply for credit.” Prior to founding moWoza, Suzana worked for several mobile phone start-up companies in Africa. The idea of a service for migrant traders came to her during a holiday in Morocco, where she saw women carrying goods on their back as they crossed the border from Ceuta into Morocco. “With moWoza, we initially targeted migrant workers in South Africa who sent goods – essential products, flour, rice, non-perishable food products – to their families in Mozambique. In the last year and a half we decided to concentrate on the traders themselves who are based in Mozambique.” “Right now, we have between 500 and 800 customers. The majority is supporting around 10 family members so we are looking at 5,000 to 8,000 people who are benefiting from our service. In the communities that we are working in, the ladies are the biggest enterprisers. They are very powerful in their communities. Women across Africa are the drivers of enterprise probably because they need to support their families,” says Suzana.