Money Can’t Buy Me Love — Culture Can.

By Mathieu Coquillon, Co-founder of Mama Money

The Michelle Obama mural overlooking the canteen area at Mama Money HQ.

It’s the start of an unpredictable and exciting decade where traditional businesses are being shaken up by new players who make life easier by using technology, especially within the international payments arena.

If you’re starting a business where the primary goal is to make money, you’re going to struggle to attract the right people. I’ll explain why.

It’s precisely the ‘Why’ that’s important. What real-world problem are you solving? Who are you empowering? WHY does your business need to exist? It’s more important to start with a genuine cause than to chase profits. You need a strong ‘Why’.

The ‘Why’ is the first building block of your company culture. It will determine the direction your organisation takes and the kind of people you will attract.

You already have a just ‘Why’? Great. The next thing to be careful of is trying to buy your team culture. Startups often use a large chunk of the money they raise to have the coolest offices. A cool office is nice, but don’t think it’s the silver bullet for creating an amazing culture.

Fancy coffee machines, baristas, Playstations, and MacBooks all-round will only get you so far. Treating people with respect and empowering them to make their own decisions will get you further.

Words. Connect. To action.

The Customer Care team is the heart of Mama Money.

People can see through you. If you stand for something or claim to be passionate about solving a particular problem, you need to live by that. Your words and actions need to always back this up.

People will connect your words and actions. If they see you are genuine they will become custodians of your vision, naturally passing the message onto customers, new colleagues, and suppliers. A great culture is created when all stakeholders connect to your mission because it reinforces it.

Stop to smell the flowers.

Momentum is really difficult to obtain as a startup. When you have it, don’t let it go to waste. Make sure everyone knows when you’re riding a wave and have fun with it.

Momentum helps build team culture. Part of momentum is celebrating milestones and taking time to reflect on an obstacle you’ve overcome as a team, or look back at how much you’ve grown.

Splash out on lunch.

If you are going to splash some cash, spend it on a team lunch. At Mama Money, we have freshly prepared lunch which we eat together every day. We have done this since day one.

Mama Money’s co-founders Raph & Matt join the team for a healthy lunch every day.

The value of sitting down and sharing a meal as a team is incredible. You find out more about your colleagues from a personal point of view. They will say things which might otherwise not be said because the setting is more relaxed. It allows “junior” colleagues to give their input and grow in confidence. We’ve found lunch is often the place where we uncover informational gems.

“Just be lekker”

It’s a ubiquitous South Africanism that embodies all things good. Being lekker.

When we started Mama Money our one and only HR policy was (and still is) “just be lekker”. What we were essentially saying is that we trust you to make the right decision. If you need to leave work early, start late, or go on leave, that’s your decision to make. Just make sure you communicate it to your team.

Members of Mama’s incredibly hard-working customer care team.

When you trust people to do the right thing they immediately reciprocate. They take ownership of their work, become committed to the cause and love coming to work (most days, because we’re all human). This trust will create a radically motivated and productive team and the start of a great culture.

A cool office, free lunch, and high salaries will bring many feet through the doors of your business, but it won’t last. Because money won’t buy you love.

International Money Transfers. Making it easier to send #MoreMoneyHome to your loved ones across Africa, Asia & Europe.

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