Saviour Dzage is the community maverick who co-founded Asoriba, a community management and growth software that emphasises effective church administration for church leaders and engages congregants in their content and provides financial services to a trusted mass community of churches in Africa.
Asoriba means church member in one of Ghana’s prominent languages, so we wanted something that people could relate with that is not easily forgotten, and that makes sense when you instantly hear of it.-Saviour Dzage
The entry point of the business
The story of Asoriba holds to the timeless proverb that ”Charity begins at home.” Apart from being software developers, the founders of Asoriba shared one core commonality that set them apart from the rest.
“My dad is a pastor, and two of my co-founders both have their parents as leaders of various churches. We started this whole project because I felt my dad had challenges trying to streamline the administration of his Church.
He was running about nine different congregations at the time. I could see his frustration and disappointment as the Church had data that needed to be organised and generate insight. When we started talking to other churches, we realised that the engagement was also a problem, so we transitioned to adding on engagement solutions.
After that, the key thing that stood out was the payment, which we incorporated as well. We continue to discover many more opportunities even now because there are several needs that the churches come to us to solve.”
Asoriba was founded in March 2015 but only launched into the market in 2017 due to a lot of research and validation ongoing in product development.
Financing the business
Asoriba’s founders had started the company with a clear mind and an open heart, keeping social impact at the very core of the project-turned-business.
We have the vision to help churches administer their roles better because churches play many roles besides spiritual obligations. They build schools, hospitals and have the lead in society, and we figured if we can help the churches achieve this mission, then there will be many lives impacted at the end of the day. So it is not just about money -Saviour Dzage
Barely a month in operations, the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) offered 50000 USD to Asoriba to build the company off the ground.
Going against the grain Asoriba declined the offer, realising that what they needed exceeded money. They needed networks required that would enable them to take their product to the market, and they reasoned that perhaps the money would distort their focus so early in their venture.
Having taken the unconventional path proved to work with their reasoning model as with time, Asoriba started closing deals, with their first deal being 10000 USD.
“We are now 100% self-sustaining. Every single expense is paid by our own investment/cash from the business. Investment is purely for scaling, not to prove our business model or whether we can do the business. We wanted to do that with our own money, and we attach the same sentiment to the vision that we carry. If we can do it ourselves, then every investor should be confident that we can bring the money as well.”
Asoriba’s business model
For the Church
Asoriba’s utilises a subscription model where church leaders are charged a monthly subscription fee to be able to use the enterprise software we have built, which makes it purely SAAS based. The leaders pay monthly subscription fees and support charges that are member tiered, focusing on how large the Church is and the specific needs we are helping the church address.
For the Church member
Asoriba has built a payment system on top of the social engagement tool that allows church members to pay their tithes and offerings from wherever they are to the Church as a form of commitment to the churches they belong. When transactions happen, Asoriba has a token on each of these, and therefore a transactional charge comes back to Asoriba, which makes money from both ends.
The social engagement tool is a combination of a chatroom and feedback forum. The Church can upload content for distribution among its members, and the members can meet their obligations to the Church through the same channel.
Asoriba’s current reach and impact
The company is incorporated in the United Kingdom, with its headquarters in Ghana and other registered subsidiaries in Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa. The company currently serves over 2000 churches with over 500,000 churchgoers using Asoriba’s social engagement tool to collaborate and communicate amongst themselves daily.
For us, we are still scratching the surface. Asoriba envisions getting to all 2.6 million churches in Africa. There is a lot ahead of us to be able to achieve.-Saviour Dzage
Creating a community management platform for a dynamic and massive community with many complicated units. Asoriba has turned things around, opened the space up, and rolled out our services to some of the biggest churches in Ghana.
“All the biggest churches in Ghana are our customers, which shows us that the passion we carry and the resilience to carry this thing across are even more important than raising money and pushing it out there.”
Positive Customer testimonials.
“The other is that customers do not talk ill of us. On the contrary, almost all our customers and I say this with very high authority are incredibly proud of what we can provide for them and are excited to use our platform.”
Joining the GrowthAfrica accelerator
“When GrowthAfrica approached us to join the programme, it opened our eyes to what more we could achieve at Asoriba and the tremendous amount of opportunity available for us to take advantage.
GrowthAfrica helps you tear the business apart and identify the gaps while coming up with your solutions for them. Most accelerators are keen on facilitating partnerships and investments. However, GrowthAfrica takes an inward look, which is critical because fixing it inside enables you to present it on the outside.
This approach is impressive, and I have enjoyed every moment we have had with the GrowthAfrica team. A big thank you for showing us how we can leverage the community we have built with the entire cohort.
During the brain trust sessions, some ideas would come up and hit me. I would wonder how come we never thought about it. We would encourage every entrepreneur that gets the opportunity to be part of it to take it very seriously.
GrowthAfrica worked with us every step of the way, from identifying the gaps, some of which we didn’t know were gaps, implementation, a weekly check, and accountability. So we are not left to it, but there is a structure to maximise the results we want to achieve. They walk us through some of the solutions we could implement and offer a vast support system.”
“We want to evolve into a marketplace of solutions for churches and other organised groups. This is key for us because even as it stands now, we have had our products used by organisations like old school unions and NGOs that use our platform to streamline the processes and make payments.
So, there is a need for us to break down our products into several products that are hosted in the marketplace and can suit people outside the Church, but the Church is still a primary focus, all the same.
We see Asoriba opening up its marketplace to external developers, so perhaps a developer in Kenya sees that they can leverage the mass community of churches that we have and roll out a solution probably in insurance.
We are graduating gradually from just a software service provider to more of a platform to roll out several solutions to the audience we already have.”
We have a continental outlook. We want to take up the entire Christian stronghold in Africa right from the beginning.-Saviour Dzage