Serge Mumbu: “We will keep on developing consulting within the next 5 years”
After 5 years of practicing in DR Congo and in Great Lakes subregion, Target one of the most leading market research agencies in the country, can pride itself on having grown up during these years. Serge Mumbu, the agency General Manager is happy about it. In the following lines, he is expressing Target hesitant start, its path full of ambushes yet with a future considered to be especially full of promising prospects. Interview
Target is reaching five years of existence today. How do you feel it in the moment of this celebration?
I have got two feelings at the same time. On the one hand, it is satisfying to reach 5 years (several companies in general, and especially SMEs are disappearing within the first five years) and being able to achieve my childhood dream (lead my own company). But on the other hand, I feel the taste of an unfinished work, i.e. I am saying to myself that I could have achieved even more and better as other start-ups in DR Congo or in other countries like Kenya and Nigeria. There is still a great path to be covered, new challenges to face; thus today we are not only to get satisfied for reaching five years.
What is the greatest success Target will show for these 5 years already covered?
it is the fact that we‘ve done a lot of innovations in market research field, since today Target is one amongst the few market agencies in DR Congo to have an online panel of about 1500 respondents in DR Congo main cities. This provides Target with the possibility to carry out quick and cheap interviews to Congolese people through internet.
It is true that the achievement of researches through panel is still posing some difficulties mainly related to poor quality of internet connection in DR Congo and due to the fact Congolese people are still to get accustomed to being interviewed online, yet we are building on our future. In the world, market researches are increasingly being carried out thanks to new technologies (internet, smartphones, applications mobiles…) and it is important for Target to operate in the same tuning fork.
What Target is bringing to market research sector that was not existing or not really exploited by your competitors?
A/ I will first of all underline communication. Through our website www.target-sarl.cd and social networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+), we made a lot of communication regarding our activities in general, and our publications in particular in order to provide maximum of information on a sector that is almost unknown to public. Information applications, CVs and offers that we are regularly receiving via our electronic address (email@example.com) are a sure proof of favorable feedback from our different readers.
Besides, there are also innovations. Target rapidly launched in the use of laptop as well as smartphones and tablets for collecting data apart from the launching of online panel. It is our participation to several conferences organized by International organizations operating in market research field such as (Esomar, Win Gallup, SAMRA , …) that easily helped us to understand the compelling need of adapting to technological evolution and progressively forsaking outdated methods of work (use of questionnaire on hard copy to be filled in with pencil, use of keyboard operators for writing of questionnaires…)
What are the major difficulties that the agencies faced during these first five years and how have you overcame them?
Lack of fame and references have been our first difficulty. The agency certainly hired experienced employees in market research field, yet nothing could secure the serious and reliability of TARGET. Pre-funding of researches (consumption index of products and use of Kinshasa services , Barometer of brand images , Statistics of Kinshasa media , Preferred celebrities At Kinshasa …) and their media coverage, especially thanks to our partner website www.mediacongo.net helped us to better make TARGET as well as its how – know be known.
The second significant difficulty was financial in the sense that we had to both purchase work equipment (desktop computers, laptops, software, printers…) and pre – fund the first researches to be shown to clients. This was possible essentially based on self – financing (thanks to private savings) and via informal loans or Banque Lamberts (with very high repayment rates) due to the fact that Congolese banks are always hesitating to finance new SMEs without guarantees (contracts, mortgages…). We went through very hard times regarding finances during the first year and this is for me the opportunity to thank my main partner Agnes EKETEBI and all the initial TARGET team (Mireille Lumu, Sonia Bokako, Blaise Pezo, Hortense Mbumba and Aimé Kamuha) for all the consented sacrifices especially that Target Launching period coincided with DR Congo political uncertainty period related to presidential and legislative elections of 2011 (decrease of economic activities).
Finally, we can mention reluctances of some clients on our capacity to provide researches complying with international standards. TARGET membership to ESOMAR (world organization of professionals in market research), partnership with global agencies (especially IPSOS), regular participation to international conferences and personal training allowed us to overcome this pitfall.
What are Target ambitions for the next five years?
Target is a Market Research and Consulting Agency. This latter aspect is not really developed and we would like to work more on it during the next five years (helping investors to better install in DR Congo and in surrounding countries, accompany our clients in terms of sales and distribution, in terms of competitions strategies…)
We will have to more internationalize our business; it is a fact that currently we are operational in some surrounding countries such as (Burundi, Cameroun, Gabon and Rwanda) with local teams of consultants, but we would like to increase number of countries of intervention to other regions of Africa especially thanks partnerships with other market research or consulting agencies.
How do you consider business climate in DR Congo and in Great Lakes subregion for the next five years?
Being naturally optimistic, I am considering an improvement in business climate and political stability in DR Congo as well as in Great Lakes subregion. It is a region rich in mineral and natural resources, there are young entrepreneurs full of talents and ambitions, international investors are very interested in potential of this region… thus it is only up to political decision makers (power and opposition) to be conscious of economical stakes and possible opportunities to be exploited for people welfare.