Chineye Ochem: Helping Businesses and Consumers in Africa Achieve Financial Confidence Through Tyms Africa

Chineye Ochem Helping Businesses and Consumers in Africa Achieve Financial Confidence Through Tyms Africa

Tyms Africa is a platform for cash flow management, bookkeeping, and financing used by African (Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya) small businesses. They help retail and online commerce businesses eliminate chaos in their finances with automated bookkeeping and accounting.

Founder Africa caught up with Chineye Ochem, the Co-founder and COO at Tyms Africa to find out more about her and her work at Tyms Africa.

FA: Tell us about yourself, your background, and your role as the co-founder of Tyms Africa.


Chineye: My name is Chineye Ochem, the co-founder and coo of Tyms Africa. Prior to joining Tyms Africa, I established a career as a chartered accountant working mostly in the financial sector in the areas of accounting, auditing, and financial accounting. I, therefore, had six years of accounting and consulting experience, part of which I gained while working for PWC Nigeria and BDO US, the last company I worked for before transferring to Tyms Africa to oversee operations.

FA: How has the journey been since you joined Tyms Africa?


Chineye: It’s been wonderful, with ups and downs, like a roller coaster. There are moments of excitement and also moments whereby you question your decision to go on this journey! However, even on days when it seems like things are not going according to plan, I am always happy to come to work because I enjoy what I do.

Overall, It’s been great, and really rewarding, and it has opened a lot of doors for me that my six years in my career had not opened. If I had continued, I might not have had as much access and opportunity as I do now. 

FA: Do you miss working with large organizations compared to being with a startup?


Chineye: Not really because I had gotten my fill of it. There are many various types of people – there are the ones who choose to put their heads down as employees, do their job, and grow the corporate ladder in an organized workplace. There are also those who like challenges and like to try new things. I fall into the second category because I was growing weary of my daily routine and repetitive tasks. I had to question myself if that was what I wanted to do for the next 5 to 10 years. I choose to go out and take on more. So, I don’t miss it at all.

FA: Can you tell us about Tyms Africa?


Chineye: Tyms Africa is a fintech startup that provides cash flow management and cash financing to small businesses.  Our first product, Tyms Book, aids businesses in managing their cash flow (income and expenses). Because the process of managing cash flow is automated, you can connect your bank account and receive financial reports for your business. Small businesses that can’t afford to hire an accountant now have a solution as Tyms Book assists them in keeping accurate financial records and obtaining a financial report so they can access funding. It also benefits Fintech businesses that must consistently reconcile transactions on a regular basis to prevent money from escaping through the cracks. Tyms Book gives you a dashboard where you are able to reconcile transactions from your manual admin dashboard to your bank account or bank statement. Our second product is Tyms Money which helps individuals and businesses save, access credit, and manage their cash per day. So that’s what we do at Tyms Africa, cash flow management and cash financing.

FA: How has Tyms Book in particular been received especially by small businesses?


Chineye: It’s been great. Over a thousand people have downloaded the Tyms Book app since it was released around a month ago, and about half of them have joined up and started using it. In fact, they have been using it to create invoices, manage debtors and creditors, and keep track of transactions.  In this case, they are seeing the usefulness and they are also receptive to it.

FA: What was the inspiration behind launching Tyms Africa and its products?


Chineye:  We were motivated to create Tyms Money App by the fact that the majority of small businesses lack access to finance to operate. When they need money, they go to banks, but small businesses are typically too risky for the banks, so some of them are forced to obtain credit through unlicensed platforms, which will almost run them out of business. That is the driving force behind Tyms Money, an app that offers loans to small businesses to help them grow and improve their standards of living. 

FA: How does the loan application process work for small business owners?


Chineye: Our credit is community-based, so if you want to access it, it’s best if someone who has a record with us refers you. However, it’s not impossible for a complete stranger with no ties to apply. You cannot simply download the app and request credits because it is administered by our agent. Instead, send us a message through the customer care page, and we’ll get in touch with you and take it from there.

FA: What sets Times Africa apart from its competitors within the Ecosystem?


Chineye: A couple of things set us apart. One of which is our founders’ profile. I am a chartered accountant and my co-founder is a ‘tech bro’ i.e. a software developer. We did not create Tyms Book from thin air; we know how financial products should look, so I bring in my experience on financial management products, and financial reporting while my co-founder is able to build or manage the building of the product. As a result, we are able to combine knowledge, skills, and experience to bring about this product. 

Additionally, we are resolving a problem for which there is currently no specific solution in Africa. Our platform goes beyond automated accounting, it helps you generate financial statements, connect all of your bank accounts to a dashboard, connect your administrative systems to a dashboard, and automatically reconcile all of your transactions to ensure that money is not slipping through the cracks. There is currently no solution like this and we are solving that for the African market.

FA: We learned that the company was formerly known as “AJOMoney,” so why the name change?


Chineye: Yes, we used to be “AJOmoney” when we first started, but as time went on, we realized that we could solve bigger problems than the one we started with initially. However, the name ‘AjoMoney’ was restrictive, so when we tell people what we do, they automatically attribute the issue we are trying to solve to “AJO,” making all of our efforts futile because the name already carries a preconceived notion. Additionally, we were going outside of Nigeria; we already have a branch in Uganda. As a result, we thought, why not rebrand since we are extending beyond here so we may spread outside of Africa?

FA: You mentioned that Tyms Book launched last month, what else are you working on right now, or is that the major priority?


Chineye: The “Tyms money” app has been running for more than a year and is still doing very well. The Tyms Book app was only released last month, and right now, we’re concentrating on improving the product because we’re still testing and improving it in general and also getting input from our early users. We are therefore fine-tuning it to address the issues that it is intended to address by gathering feedback from user experience, and once that is accomplished, we scale.

FA: What is your prediction for the growth of entrepreneurship among women in Africa in the next decade?


Chineye: Truthfully, I will say that women have always been in business. However, a good number of women restrict themselves to businesses that they can easily run and manage. For example, in Tech, you won’t see a lot of women, especially women founders but in small businesses, you will see women doing so well, so women have always been in business. 

I believe that women should overcome the barriers we’ve set up for ourselves and take advantage of more opportunities. We should also acquire technical skills, such as software development so that we can be founders of tech startups. Women shouldn’t just focus on the operational or administrative aspect of starting a business; instead, they should also focus on the ‘startup’ aspect. I think a lot of women are doing great and founding some really interesting startups, I think over time, women will eventually play a significant role in the startup and business worlds.

FA: You mentioned having a meeting with your team so, what would you say is an important leadership style that women bring to the table as founders or co-founders?


Chineye: I will say empathy. I believe empathy is something that women provide and it is crucial in the workplace. Since you are paying your team and all of that, you also need to be able to relate to them on an emotional level, treating them like people rather than like machines. Most women are good at this.

FA: Do you ever feel the need to be ‘tough’ in order to receive the respect you deserve at work?


Chineye: I have always been treated with the respect I deserve, even in positions of leadership. Since respect is a two-way street, when you show someone else respect, they will do the same for you. I typically don’t have a problem with it because it’s not just about the fact that I’m your boss and you need to respect me; it’s also about you as a person. I’ve never experienced a situation where I felt disrespected by my workers because I’m a woman. There is always mutual respect.

FA: Which app, website, or software tool did you recently discover that you keep coming back to?


Chineye: Honestly I’m not the kind to get excited about new inventions. GPT or NFT or anything, but I recently discovered YouTube music even though it is not new. I love music and so I listen to it a lot, so I normally have it on my phone or via Spotify, but I recently learned about YouTube music; to be honest, I didn’t know it existed.

FA: Do you prefer loud music or using earpods to listen to music?


Chineye: I do like loud music when I am alone in my house but when I am in the office, I have my ear pods on to enjoy my music.

FA: Tea or Coffee?


Chineye: Tea. I don’t take coffee

FA: What is that unusual or absurd thing that you love doing?  


Chineye: I don’t know if this is absurd, but I watch movies a lot. I am more of an introvert and I love being by myself, so I watch movies a lot. I mean excessively because I could spend a week locked up in my room and be fine as long as there is a movie, water, light, and internet access. I can watch movies and series all day, especially Drama series. 

FA: Thank you for your time

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