Significant Others & Business Partners – The Power Couple That Is Clamping Down On Cybercrime In Africa
Benson and Esther Mengi are a Tanzanian couple who are united in marriage and in business. Their mission? To slam the door in the faces of cyber attackers and with their business, Serensic Africa, they are doing just that. Here’s the story of the cybersecurity couple.
It was August last year when global media went into overdrive with the viral story of an Australian kid who got a bite off the “Apple.”
The then 16-year-old, whose name was withheld for security reasons, became as much a hero as he was a villain when it was discovered that he had been hacking into the private servers of Apple — the world’s first and only trillion-dollar company at the time — and carting away loads of information, which thankfully, weren’t used for anything malicious. And that’s mostly because the kid was doing it for fun.
I’m guessing the folks at Apple heaved one very big sigh of relief when they learned that the kid was kind of a fan whose desire was to someday be found good enough to work for the tech company.
The dust has since settled on the matter and truly, it never quite got out of hand but I bet it rocked more than a few boats. Designing cybersecurity systems for one of the world’s largest tech companies must feel a bit like protecting a goldfish in a sea full of sharks and one can never be too sure that nobody’s lurking.
For all the firewalls and security protocols that the techies at Apple must have put up to protect company and user data, I bet they never thought some teenager halfway around the world who should probably be throwing boomerangs or campaigning for marsupial awareness was going to send them scampering.
Well, that’s just the reality of the world we live in today – we’re always at the mercy of cyber attacks whose effects can range from small economic losses to full blown chaos. Because our world has become more dependent than ever on computers (and that’s actually not a bad thing), there is always the danger of someone trying to gain access for either malicious purposes, or for fun as in the case of our little Aussie.
So, essentially, we are perpetually in danger of cyber attacks and the repercussions can have quite damning implications. Think about someone hacking into a country’s airspace and setting airplanes on a collision course, or someone gaining access to missile technology and effectively starting Armageddon by firing lethal shots at disputing states, or someone hacking into banks and emptying accounts. Better imagined than witnessed, trust me.
Some publications even go as far as claiming losses of up to USD 600 Bn every year due to cybercrime. Half that sum already looks like the GDP of a number of countries. And that’s not even the worst case scenario.
This is why cybersecurity is such an important industry; one that should, at least, not be battling the talent shortage problem that could well tank things. Africa, perhaps more than anywhere else, has more need for more effort on the cybersecurity front as the lack of sophisticated technology and skilled individuals to man the gates put the continent even at greater risk of such attacks.
And that’s probably the line of thought that drove married duo, Benson and Ether Mengi, to pull their resources together towards curbing the scourge. The couple built their own cybersecurity firm to protect people and organisations from the highwaymen of the cyber world.
Their company, Serensic Africa, has grown into one of East Africa’s leading indigenous cybersecurity and software development firms. The company offers products such as business process management, system integration, and SaaS-architecture solutions, bulk SMS management, custom application development, CMS development, and customisation services to organisations which desire their specialization.
The husband and wife duo were students of the United States International University, although at different times. In 2013, Benson was awarded a BSc in International Business Administration (International Marketing). On the other hand, Esther’s first degree was a BSc in Information Systems and Technology, and she obtained it in 2014.
Esther went even further and in 2015, she bagged an MBA in Information Systems Management in 2015 with four certifications in Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA), Microsoft Applications, ISO/IEC 27001, 2005 Lead Auditor, and Certified Ethical Hacker. As much an egghead as she was tough, she was even a member of the taekwondo team during her school days.
Long before he even secured a formal degree, Benson had put in several years of work as a Sales Representative and Project Manager at Afrique Pharmaceuticals and Carina Limited respectively, Tanzania. While in working in those capacities, he was responsible for exploring, planning and leading development teams on new projects.
On her part, Esther — the ‘brains’ of the operations at Serensic Africa — worked for the United Nations headquarters in Africa (UNON) and UNDP Somalia before walking away from those roles to set up a business of her own.
The duo met on one of Benson’s trips as a Sales and Marketing Executive and they hit it off once it became apparent that his skills in sales and her expertise as cybersecurity and digital forensics consultant did compliment one another. A convergence of their efforts have since morphed into Serensic Africa, and a family too. The company is fast becoming a leading independent company in cybersecurity, software solutions, and general IT consultancy.
At the core of their business, Serensic Africa provides comprehensive information security services to organizations. They also design and implement information security programs, as well as review and develop information security architectures, security policies, business continuity strategies, and disaster recovery plans.
It does challenge reason how it is that a company run by two people who share a bed and probably many other things too can run so efficiently, but this one is a well-oiled machine. Roles are well defined and delineated, with Benson filling in as Co-founder/Director of Marketing and Esther assuming the position of Co-founder/Consultant on Cyber Security and Digital Forensics.
And the arrangement has worked seamlessly for the power couple. Whoever said you can’t be both significant others and business partners with someone? For once, looks like someone gets to eat their cake and have it.
The power couple has been generating a lot of buzz on the interwebs for collaborative efforts that have culminated in what looks like a happy family and a thriving business. Besides drawing attention from the United Nations and Cisco, Esther Mengi was also recognised by Forbes and named in the “30 Under-30 Most Influential Young Entrepreneurs in Africa” in 2017.
Serensic Africa currently boats some high net worth clients like IPP Media Group (Tanzania’s largest media house), Coca Cola, and Molocaho by Amorette.
In its bid to become a pan-African company with the potential to build a broad catalogue of services tailored for an increasingly aware continent in danger of cyber attacks, the company has since expanded beyond Tanzania to launch a new office in Nairobi, Kenya.
Featured Image Courtesy: Twitter