By Sylvester Munanjala in Lusaka Zambia
Young and enterprising businessman Francis Kasonde 29, says he self taught himself computer graphics and IT when his cousin photocopied an IT handbook titled “Computer Fundamentals”. The rest of the story as they say, is history. Kasonde is today the founder and creative director of Lusaka based BlueRays Software company that currently employs 10 youths who otherwise might have been jobless. The company is the first in Zambia that develops applications to accept any/all credit cards in the world, giving its clients a wide market base. It also provides ColdFusion hosting to its clients.
ColdFusion, is a sophisticated and powerful server-side language used to develop advanced and complicated web-based applications like shopping carts, payment transactions etc. Unlike most other companies, BlueRays Software designs and creates its own website templates thereby building applications that matches client vision and expectations. BlueRays Software has partners in South Africa and the USA making it efficient in providing website hosting & development, domains registrations and networking solutions
Kasonde’s success did not happen overnight. Before creating BlueRay company, he worked for others but eventually decided to start a business. His first attempt in 2007, was a joint venture with the help of two friends. They created Tri-Pro Printing Ltd But with limited business experience, shortage of capital and competing visions of the other partners, the business crashed two years later. He became a freelance computer consultant. He later decided to create BlueRay company when he realized freelance consulting was not for him but it helped get him a customer base he is still using today.
“A successful businessman grows when he learns from his mistakes”, he said smiling indicating that though the joint venture with his friends failed, he picked valuable lessons in running a business.
“I personally learned a lot from my mistakes. In fact, I kept trying out different things to try and perfect myself.” Kasonde added.
He cautioned aspiring business people to stay true to their dreams and know they could fail a good number of times before succeeding. “They need to be resilient and avoid changing direction at the first hurdle”, he noted.
Kasonde attributes his current success to a focused positive mindset, a great vision and perseverance.
The Council of Churches in Zambia is one of the many clients of BlueRays.
Finance and Administration Officer for the council Brian Elesani Mwanza, told Iroko Magazine in Lusaka that BlueRays Software is always reliable and dependable.
“Every time we have issues with the internet provider, the server or even our antivirus, they are always on standby to resolve the problem. They are currently in the process of creating a database for our property unit portfolio. They are our IT Specialists” he added.
Not surprisingly, Kasonde is now a role model for many young Zambians.
Sera Phiri 23, an unemployed youth with a university degree based in Zambia’s Eastern Province told Iroko Magazine she has learnt a lot from Mr Kasonde’s story and will soon use his blueprint to launch her own business. She did not mention what business she was planning to create. She was categorical the government had to encourage aspiring business oriented youths who could create thriving businesses and help reduce the unemployment rate in the country.
Smart Banda 27, an IT student at ZICAS has also been inspired by Kasonde
“He is a very humble person. It’s usually hard for visitors to even tell that he is the boss around. I’m learning to be focused and gaining a lot of IT skills including programming languages that I’m likely use when I set-up my own business in future.”
Jacqueline Musonda 26, a business woman in Lusaka told Iroko Magazine that Mr Kasonde is a role model to most unemployed youths.
Born in 1985 and in a large family of nine siblings, Kasonde only saw his parents when he started secondary school.
During his early childhood, the absence of his parents greatly affected his self-esteem and confidence. He however later realized he had to fend for himself and part of his success today grew from his childhood insecurities. He was raised by his elder brother but eventually left the safety and comfort of his home to face life, the world and its challenges. Though he now owns a software company, he has no university degree.
The success of his BlueRays software company today is proof he says that he made the right decision.