Collins Muriuki, 33

Founder & CEO

Terra Software

Collins sums up his entrepreneurial journey in two words: grit and resilience. Those two qualities have seen him rebuild Terra Software, his financial technology (fintech) firm, from the Covid-19 ruins.

For eight years, all the stars had aligned in Collins’ favour. He was on the growth fast lane, riding on Kenya’s increasing technology uptake to grow locally and regionally into Uganda and Rwanda.

“Our motivation behind Terra was to create solutions for Africa, and also, with the evolution of technology and based on what we had learnt, we wanted to offer solutions,” the soft-spoken says Collins of the formative stages of the fintech back in 2012 when he was a Computer Science student at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Science and Technology.

However, the global health pandemic outbreak in 2020 hit their clients hardest and, in turn, disrupted the growth streak.

""Our motivation behind Terra was to create solutions for Africa.""

Collins had to make tough choices.

“We supported airlines, hotels and restaurants to process payments and bookings from travellers, but with Covid restrictions, everything stopped. We were forced to cut staff numbers to just four,” he says.

That wiped out an estimated 90 per cent of Terra Software’s market and led to the closure of operations in Uganda and Rwanda.

Three years later, the firm has bounced back, and Collins is looking to return to Rwanda and Uganda by the end of next year.

Among the firm’s top customers is the Kenya Tea Development Agency, with at least 650,000 farmers and Food for Education, a digital mobile platform that uses their Tap2Eat technology to enable public primary school children to access nutritious food. Food for Education has on-boarded an estimated 400,000 parents and more than 500,000 school children. Collins says the firm’s technology has also gained recognition and adoption by Nairobi County under the ‘Dishi na County’ initiative.

Terra Software has increased its staff numbers to 23, with 12 being permanent.

Collins finds satisfaction in offering solutions that enable farmers to access their payments without delay and school children to access education.

He started the company with a Sh20,000 capital and targets to expand across the continent, riding on the technological growth in African countries and the tech-savvy youth.

“Terra has to work because I have never had a plan B. We want Terra to be a legacy business that I will leave for my children and who come after them,” he says at the end of our interview.

John Mutua