30 June 2022

5 Questions for Stitch Channel Partnerships Lead, Jess Manthey

Describe your job to a 10-year-old. Think of me as an apple farmer. Instead of going to the market each day to sell my fruit ...

Lucille Wilcox, Content Marketing Manager

|5 Minutes, 12 Seconds read

Describe your job to a 10-year-old.

Think of me as an apple farmer. Instead of going to the market each day to sell my fruit directly to the person who’s going to eat it, I’ll go and talk to the supermarkets and sell my apples to them. Then they’ll send it to all of their stores who will re-sell it to their customers across the country, allowing me to reach more customers.

But instead of apples, I sell a financial product to other businesses who want to be able to receive and send payments without needing to build that product themselves.

Why are partnerships so important to Stitch and the wider fintech industry?

As cliche as it sounds, there’s a saying that goes: ‘If you want to go far, go together.’ Fintech is a booming industry that moves incredibly quickly. One reason for this is that so many fintech companies partner and work with one another – and that’s really powerful.

Our whole philosophy at Stitch is about enabling businesses to build and scale more easily and at a faster rate. We’re developing the infrastructure that makes this possible, and it’s important that our current and prospective partners enable that too.

Going back to my farming and distribution analogy, the fact that our product is available nationwide speaks to the idea of achieving more reach and impact by selling to one and solving a problem for many. By leveraging our partners’ networks, we’re able to solve problems and reach more people across Africa in a much more efficient way.

How do you build and maintain good partner relationships?

I drill it down to three important aspects:

  1. It’s important to remember we’re working with our partners to solve two problems: the partners’ problem(s) as well as their customers’ problem(s).For example, one partner’s business goal could be to offer their customers more choice when it comes to payment methods. For their customer, it’s important that the payment methods provided are secure, reliable and cost-effective. In that case, my goal is to ensure we’re always conscious of what’s important to both parties and that we’re always solving for both of them. This allows me to prove our value across the partner’s business as well as for their customer base.
  2. We constantly reevaluate the relationships we have with our partners to ensure they continue to be mutually beneficial. They should never feel like we’re getting more value out of the relationship, and vice versa.
  3. When it comes to maintaining good relationships, a high level of trust is imperative. We never want our relationships to be transactional, so we adopt a team mentality and strive to help our partners achieve their goals. We’re not merely service providers; we consciously work with our partners to drive their growth. By understanding their targets, we can help them get there. When they win, we win.

At the end of the day, we’re not just working off of what’s in the contract. There’s always a bigger picture and a forward-thinking mindset to every conversation we have. We have a great product, but it’s the relationships we have that keep our partners with us vs our competitors. Ultimately, we want to empower our partners to move faster and provide their customers with an easy way to pay.

What made you decide to move from a larger organisation to a startup? What advice do you have for young people considering doing the same?

I joined Stitch because I wanted the opportunity to build and create something, and to feel a sense of ownership over it. A lot of larger organisations have proven their product and market fit, and often the work there is more about implementing and optimising what already exists. From my almost nine years working for two large corporations, I felt like I’d gained the skills needed to sell anything – but I wanted to take more risks, learn faster and be part of trialling and bringing a new product to the market.

My advice for others is to think about what suits your personality and your interests. If you’re young and super passionate about something in particular, like crypto for example, then join a crypto startup. Personally, I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I first started my career. Starting out in a more structured environment really suited my personality at the time and allowed me to gain a lot of experience in a different way that I might not have been able to do at a startup.

It’s also important to consider what skills you want to learn and how you’d like to learn them, and then match that to the respective environment and what you can bring to the table.

What’s your vision for what the continent will look like if Stitch has achieved its mission?

Our mission at Stitch is really simple – not in implementation but in what it strives for. I think of Africa as a continent comprised of many mini continents. That’s to say there’s no standardisation or transparency, and this impacts accessibility and inclusivity at a continent level. If we can bridge that gap, it’ll make us one single continent in terms of a financial ecosystem.

If we look at almost any African country, it makes no sense that one of the biggest obstacles an entrepreneur faces when building their business revolves around how to pay and get paid, and how to do so safely, easily and cost-effectively. As a consumer, it’s mind-blowing how difficult it is for me to simply use my own money and get it where it’s needed. We’re trying to make payments – or the movement of money – a non-event, as it should be.

If we’re successful in this mission, as a continent, we’ll end up speaking a similar financial language, and businesses will be able to grow faster, which is vital for our economy. Consumers will also end up having a much better experience with the products and services they love, which is ultimately the goal everyone is chasing.

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