Meet Team Kwara: Edward, Software Engineer

Lewis Kang'ethe Ngugi

Team Kwara

Much of the work that goes into building the core components of our SACCO management platform happens behind the scenes. At Kwara, building the backend systems that power our SACCO digital banking platform, scaling highly distributed systems, and continuously improving our engineering practices while impacting the way the Cooperatives experience going digital —is largely the role of the software engineer.

Meet Edward Karanja, Software Engineer of Kwara. He's a musician, environmentalist and a dad. His personal experiences in Customer Experiences and having worked in teams ranging from Alpha Sights to Andela influenced his career trajectory. We sat down with him to hear the full story.

How would someone describe you?

Chilled, reserved and curious

So you were a Customer Experience Executive? What was it like?

I learnt how to empathise with customers to tailor solutions that address their needs by:

  • Being a good and active listener 
  • Trying to see what they are struggling with and why
  • Taking ownership of the customer’s questions and lastly
  • Talking to the customer with respect.

 Which in hindsight is what we live and breathe as our Kwara Value:

The user is your main priority. You ensure all users have the best experience possible. You care about the human in the user. You always have the user in mind in your daily work. You are happy when the user succeeds.

“Yet, taught by time, my heart has learned to glow for other’s good, and melt at other’s woe.” – HomerCare for the User

So, you had all those experiences in Customer Experience from your previous work. Why the shift?

I have always had a passion for technology and problem-solving. I felt that I would be in a better place building the solutions than using the solutions built to solve problems. I’d be able to combine my two passions; tech and problem-solving. 

What got you interested in software development?

It started out of curiosity about how a computer can take user input and give some response to the user. I then realized the unlimited possibilities to build solutions there are in software development.

When talking with other software developers I have the feeling that there’s no standard definition of software development. How do you interpret your role as a Software Engineer in your company?

I’m a backend developer which means I work on the technology that users don’t get to see. I work on our digital banking platform APIs needed to power the components of the user-facing SACCO portal by coding and maintaining them up, integrating with third-party solutions and ensuring 99.99% Uptime commitment for our SACCO customers.

Edward Karanja Software Engineer Kwara Google Launchpad Africa.JPG

What’s it like to work as a developer in a startup? What are the best parts and what do you struggle with?

Working at a startup is great since the culture is not very corporate. Everyone knows everyone regardless of the department which makes collaboration very easy and smooth. The best part is the ability to have your ideas heard and tested/implemented without too much bureaucracy. The tough part is that sometimes the work gets overwhelming being that the team is small but on the flip side, it helps build resilience.

As a Software Engineer, what does your day look like?

9.30 am

I get to work. Spend about 30 minutes looking at my schedule for the day and responding to messages.

10:00am

Start work, coding. 

11:30 am

Stand up then resume work. 

The Second Half of the Day

When possible I spend some time pair-programming with a teammate from Nairobi or Berlin. 

4.30 pm 

I spend about an hour and a half trying to learn something new or researching a topic that might have been on my mind. I then try to finish any pending work or doing some open-source work.

7.30 pm 

I close down for the day. 

That’s an ideally typical day but in reality, no two days are the same.

What do you like best about working at Kwara?

The team. Everyone is passionate about the work we do and has bought into the vision which makes every day a joy to come to work.

What makes you excited about Kwara products?

We are building a secure, simple and affordable SACCO software solution that touches the lives of millions of people that have been for a long time ignored or forgotten in the financial sector and truly transforming their lives.

Are there any new features or upcoming upgrades that you’re excited about for Kwara? And if there are, do you want to give us a sneak peek?

There are many features in the product roadmap that I can’t wait to get into the users’ hands but you’ll have to wait to see them. 

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