23 March 2020. South Africa’s Small, Medium and Micro Enterprise (SMME) sector is expected to come under even greater pressure as Government puts extraordinary measures in place to curb the spread of COVID-19. Given the country’s weak economy in recent times, many businesses are already having their resilience tested by having to work with restricted budgets and limited access to credit while navigating local and international economic challenges beyond their control. At times like these, access to funding becomes critical to the sustainability and success of a growing business.
A recent Finfind survey shows that a significant SMME credit gap exists in South Africa – estimated to be between R86 billion to R346 billion. Many of these companies are unable to meet the strict banking requirements to access credit. Complicated forms, long approval times and the high cost of credit doesn’t work in favour of these small businesses, resulting in unnecessary, avoidable challenges and obstacles for business owners.
Mariam Cassim, Chief Officer of Vodacom Financial Services says, “We recognise the financial challenges that SMMEs face in the current economy as it relates to access to funding and the ability to receive cashless payments in an affordable way. This is why Vodacom Financial Services introduced VodaLend, a disruptive SMME business funding product that lets business owners apply online for funding and have an answer within 4 hours. It’s quick, easy and not limited to Vodacom customers.”
Quintin Van Vuuren, Executive Head of VodaLend at Vodacom Financial Services says, “Business owners know how to conduct their trade, produce and sell products and deliver services. However, many struggle to navigate the complex financial environment in which their businesses operate. They need assistance with financial literacy, financial planning and effective money management.”
The wasted effort in approaching the wrong funders or submitting incorrect information can be spent on more productive activities. That’s why organisations that fund small businesses must make the application and approval process less complicated, quick and tailored to the company’s needs.
Van Vuuren explains, “The under-serviced small business market is full of potential and allows innovative funders, who are able to tailor business-specific solutions, to help these companies reach their full potential. Easy online applications, faster turn-around times on application approvals and the ability for the business owner to access the cash quickly, are just some of the areas in which digital funding institutions need to focus. It is also important to consider the real value added services offered such as free legal cover with the funding.”
The reality is that fintech solutions are well positioned to step in and provide funding to this sector of the market, especially now that many small businesses will experience cashflow challenges in the face of the Covid-19 health crisis. VodaLend, for example, has the ability to process many multiple funding applications at reduced transactional costs and introduce an innovative repayment method. This gives small businesses access to a convenient funding partner that supports the future of their growing business.
Vodacom Financial Services is committed to unlocking economic opportunities that will drive inclusive economic growth and sustainable employment, particularly for small businesses in South Africa. VodaLend can play an integral role in implementing customised funding solutions to support South African small businesses.