Meet Patrick Higiro, CEO and Founder of RugeroMed, a medical supplier that operates out of Kigali, Rwanda. Since partnering with the global trade network Kountable in 2014, growth for this company has been marked by better financing options for the procurement of top-quality medical goods, and with that, bigger contracts, an increase in employees, a larger office space, and more — predictability that secures repeat customers and overall business growth.
“We are known in the market for making excellent products,” said Higiro. “We had customers behind us, but the challenge was, of course, the financing. I remember the first deal was about a few thousand (USD). Right now, the business has grown 10 times [that].”
Today, as a trusted distributor, RugeroMed supplies the largest hospitals across Rwanda with medical equipment such as catheters, syringes, operating gowns and cardiovascular surgery packs. This year, they plan to expand into other countries as well.
Higiro explained that one of the reasons the business is growing is because of the “back up of Kountable finance.”
But what is “Kountable finance?” A loan with a reasonable interest rate?
Turns out, something even better. Kountable’s business model isn’t based on loans and making profit by interest rates. Instead, the multi-national trade partner buys the goods needed to fulfill large contracts and even assists in the delivery logistics of those goods, insuring high-quality products get to the end customers — in RugeroMed’s case, Rwanda’s biggest hospitals — who need them. After the trade is complete, Kountable gets a percentage of the end customer’s final payment.
The real key for this supplier to go from a day-to-day survival mode to measurable growth was from its ability to predict product needs and stock goods.
“With Kountable,” said Higiro, “we are able to save small money to buy stock with it, and it helps us to be competitive on the market. It’s also helped the client to operate, because for healthcare, some of the items are critical. The clients cannot afford to be out of stock.
“Logistically, we are able to compete with any company locally because we keep most of the critical items ready [in] stock. Because of Kountable, we have big plans to also keep more products ready [in] stock. That’s the challenge locally. We all import; we’re not manufacturing locally, so the stock is the key to compete locally.”
Having product in stock is a huge advantage. These days, RugeroMed asks its clients to anticipate their need for a supply, so the company can anticipate too.
“There is efficiency behind it,” said Higiro, “and also there is confidence that goes with it, because we can now deal with any clients, small or big.”
In addition to efficiency and confidence that comes with a trade partnership with Kountable, there is also the perk of repeat business and better pricing.
“We’ve had a lot of discount[s], because the supplier now is confident that I will pay on time,” Higiro said. “Also, it gives us the power to negotiate when we are buying or when we are making orders, because there is trust behind it.”
Trust, transparency and collaboration is at the core of every Kountable trade. This is made possible partly because of the technology the company uses — an app for both desktop and mobile (Android and iOS).
“Before the app,” said Higiro, “everything was dependent on emails. Sometimes people would delay to respond or to give you feedback, but as we talk now with the app, it is user-friendly.
“You can upload documents easily,” he said. “You can also make chats; you can get feedback live. If there’s something that’s missing, you can type and interact on the app. That is very good because it allows you to know the status instantly, and it allows you to communicate what is missing and the status of the project.”
Higiro described the app technology as “a remote office,” saying that you don’t need hard copies like before and that trade documentation can be processed anytime and and any place.
If the Kountable app is a remote office, then the network itself might be the global trade solution for growth in emerging markets. Enabling entrepreneurs to predict product needs and fulfilling them is just the beginning.