THERE was no one more surprised than Afrosoft managing director John Mberi when he received a certificate of merit from the Zimbabwe Institute of Management and was declared first runner-up for the 2004 Manager of the Year Award.
“I know that Afrosoft has been doing remarkably well and knew that I had been nominated for the award but I never expected to be a runner-up, let alone first runner-up, considering how young Afrosoft is, compared to the concerns that some of the other nominees were managing,” he said.
“I am obviously delighted to have received this honour which, of course, is an honour not only for me but for Afrosoft.”
Mberi is co-founder of Afrosoft, which he formed with Kundiso Matanga, who heads the company’s technical department, in 1999.
After spending the first few years conducting research and developing new products, Afrosoft, under Mberi’s leadership, broke into the market in a big way at the beginning of last year, when it began marketing the software packages it had developed for the banking and financial sector.
“We developed the software with the local market specifically in mind,” Mberi said. “With no other local developer of software specifically for the banking and financial market, banks and financial institutions had been relying on imported software that was designed for a market with better developed communications infrastructure.
“The first financial institution to adopt a complete Afrosoft package was delighted to find that it worked much better than the imported software it had been using previously. It was faster and more flexible. Tellers reported that they were able to process five transactions in the time it had previously taken for just one.
“Naturally, as word spread about how effective our software was, more companies became interested in our products. We were soon being asked to develop software not only for financial institutions but also for other commercial organisations and various institutions.
“Today we remain the only local producer of world class banking and financial software and also have software packages for various commercial enterprises, such as supermarkets and hotels, and for public sector institutions, including local authorities.
“We have become known outside our borders and have received requests from companies in other countries for software packages that will meet their needs.
“The expansion of our company over the past 12 months has been phenomenal and necessitated various changes in our management structure to keep pace with the demand for our products and services,” he said.
Mberi’s vision for Afrosoft is to become the leading software development house in Africa. However, he also has a vision of Zimbabwe becoming the hub for software development in Africa.
This has led him to visit a number of other countries, including India, and discuss with various local universities, including the University of Zimbabwe, his ideas for ensuring the country has an adequate supply of software engineers and the infrastructure needed to make Zimbabwe a software engineering country of note.
Prior to starting Afrosoft, Mberi worked for such companies as Real Time, Beverly Building Society, where he was systems consultant, and Diamond Insurance, where he was information technology consultant.
In addition to developing software systems that are fast, flexible and ideal for the unique environments of its clients, Afrosoft has developed the ZeeSwitch, which makes quality data transmissions possible even where the quality of data telecommunications lines is poor.
It has also pioneered the use in Zimbabwe of biometric technology for enhancing information technology security, through the use of electronic fingerprints or thumbprints in place of passwords for gaining access to a computer or restricted files or computer sites. – Own Correspondent.