Odoo, the Belgian open source ERP vendor, opened its first office on the African continent in Kenya. The announcement revealed that the office opened on the 1st of July in Nairobi and will support up to fifty people within a year. The office will become the HQ for the continent.
It will be led by Patrick Lukusa, who was appointed as the director of Odoo KE LTD and is the Managing Director, Africa for Odoo. As of July 1st, Odoo hoped to have around 15 employees (LinkedIn reveals 7 currently located in Kenya). These are mainly sales consultants and business analysts, and it has nine open positions for similar roles.
Fabien Pinckaers, CEO & Founder of Odoo S.A., commented: “It was very important for us to open this new office and 2022 was the year to do it. We wanted to be closer to our customers and address them locally, with local talents, which is something we cannot achieve from afar.”
Growing from an existing user base
This is not a small investment. It is also one that is slightly unusual in that most software vendors select South Africa or Nigeria as an initial location as the economies are larger. Zoho recently targeted Nigeria.
However, one of the reasons behind the choice may be the strength of its partner network within the country. There are eleven partners and just over fifty referencable customers in Kenya already. This should enable Lukasa’s team to make an impact.
With its goal of achieving a turnover of 250 million Kenyan Shillings (equivalent to €2 million) in its first year, it will have to hit the ground running. The new office will provide sales and support to African customers in Kenya and neighbouring Nigeria, with over forty referenceable customers and eight partners.
Its open-source applications will help African SMEs to transform their businesses cost-effectively.
Lukusa commented: “Digitization cannot be ignored anymore. Today an SME in Nairobi or Abidjan faces the same challenges as one in Sydney, Madrid, or Mexico in terms of efficiency gains. We want to equip these SMEs with a modern, fully integrated suite of business applications that can address their needs at a reasonable cost and boost their competitiveness.”
At the same time as Odoo announced the new office, it also revealed several localisations for the African market. It already supports accounting for the Algerian and Egyptian markets and has added support for the Kenyan chart of accounts. There is also support for local payments such as Mpesa, Airtel, and MTN for eCommerce vendors and Kenyan Payroll.
Enterprise Times: What does this mean
Africa is attracting more interest from software vendors in 2022 than ever before. Some vendors seem to feel that their offering has value in the region and that the economies are now mature enough to support them. What is interesting is the choice of Kenya. Odoo also has many technical employees in Egypt (up to 40 according to LinkedIn). It is perhaps surprising that it did not choose to launch there.
However, Kenya provides it with a central location from which it can reach a lot of other countries quickly. It also has access to both French and English speakers, which it is recruiting for. It will be interesting to see how the new business unit performs. Can Odoo significantly add to its referenceable customers across the continent in the next 12 months?