Welcome to newly appointed CEO, Venture Capitalist, Tauriq Brown

Welcome to newly appointed CEO, Venture Capitalist, Tauriq Brown

New CEO of township Internet Service Provider TooMuchWifi set to take affordable internet to low-income communities across Africa

Cape Town, 14 March 2023 – There is no question that technology has the ability to resolve some of the challenges faced by township residents and those living in low-income settlements, including transforming them into more inclusive micro-economies. This is especially true of South Africa’s digital divide, which is exacerbated by uneven broadband distribution. While the middle-class pay on average 0.15% of their incomes on Wifi and data, this compares with low-income South Africans who spend up to 21% of their incomes on data making “always-on” out of reach for most. Importantly, this prevents them from accessing education, employment, entertainment, engagement and general services information, to name but a few. This stark reality puts millions on the backfoot from being able to enter into and contribute to the economy, holding them tightly in a web of unemployment and inaccessibility from the fourth industrial revolution in which many new tech-oriented jobs are fast being created.

This is a travesty which must be addressed if we are going to close the digital divide, and prevent it from getting even larger, especially among the youth, of which nearly 50% have no work. So says Tauriq Brown, the new TooMuchWifi CEO, a wireless ISP developed specifically for low-income individuals and SMEs in under-served communities.

Brown is a venture builder who has previously scaled startups in record times, having started and successfully sold ventures for Rocket Internet, the global internet and tech incubator with a market cap of $3.7 billion, including an exit to Alibaba.com, the Chinese online retail giant.

So critical is this need that access to the internet is among the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (Goal 9). Its vision is to significantly increase access to Information and Communication Technology and strive to provide universal and affordable access to the Internet in least developed countries. To achieve this however requires major Information and Communication Technology investments in local populations, especially those in poor communities or rural areas.

Fortunately, solutions do exist and the cost of data is decreasing across ISPs, but it’s still not enough – especially if one considers that, according to the latest Household Affordability Index, the price of an average basket of goods costs R4928,34 (Feb 2023) a month. This far exceeds the monthly breadline of R624 per person, i.e. the amount of money a person needs to buy food to survive. Add in the 18% electricity price hike that applies as of 1st April 2023 and the expected R2.44/litre of petrol and R3.35/litre of diesel increases next month too – not to mention the steep interest rate cycle we are currently in and the resultant inflation spike – it is little wonder then that so few can afford data or digital devices.

To help overcome this, TooMuchWifi has spent the past seven years giving communities access to extremely affordable Wifi through its uncapped and hotspot options. Currently with 400 000 customers – individuals and SMEs – already using its service across 40 locations in the Western Cape, TooMuchWifi is giving poorer people a chance, a chance to be part of the ever-expanding online world in which the middle and higher classes live and work.

Against this background, in November 2022 TooMuchWifi made the business decision to slash prices by a noteworthy 43% in an effort to assist everyday consumers and small businesses to remain connected. This price reduction will remain in place, and it has been the driver of recent hypergrowth, tripling monthly sales. The new fees can save customers R300+ a month. Current prices start from R295 per month for Uncapped Lines and R5 for Hotspot top-ups.

With the new CEO in place as of 7th March 2023, the MIC (Mineworkers Investment Company)-backed tech company (MIC owns +-24% of TooMuchWifi) is now on a significant drive to rapidly increase its customer base by growing its presence country-wide, asserting its dominance in Cape Town, then broader Western Cape and Gauteng with the aim to expand into Africa within 2-4 years. To achieve this, the company has secured a significant amount of debt and equity funding for an undisclosed amount .

“The co-founder and outgoing CEO, Ian Thomson, laid the foundations for a highly scalable organisation, one that reaches people across South Africa and ultimately the world by providing access to highly affordable Wifi.

“The business has grown exponentially at 300% y-o-y and my highly skilled team and I are now strategically planning to expand our operations so that we can reach exponentially more people. Access to the internet is not an Sustainable Development Goal for nothing, it is a human right that can greatly improve lives. From the small Spaza shop owner to the 16-old studying for exams, having access to Wifii is vital for human survival, especially as we enter the era of 4IR and AI evolution. Being internet-able and literate is an essential life skill if people are to move forward and improve their circumstances and incomes,” says Brown.

With roots in Manenberg, a low-income community in Cape Town, the new CEO is acutely aware of the conditions in which many poor South Africans live and it is this that spurs on his indelible passion to provide real solutions.

Having left South Africa to move to South East Asia (the world fastest growing internet economy) in 2012, Brown earned his tech stripes, scaling businesses around the world including the highly successful Rocket Internet. Returning home in February 2023 to take over the role of CEO from Thomson, Brown now has his sights firmly set on radically reducing the cost of data to help low-income South Africans gain internet access to increase their dignity, income opportunities and greatly improve their lives.

CEO, Venture Capitalist, Tauriq Brown