It is a well-known fact that small businesses struggle with cash flow. Even when some find a way around it, there’s the tendency of waiting weeks and sometimes months to get paid for services rendered to customers and clients.
A typical example is an agricultural product supplier that receives payment 30-90 days after delivery of produce. Such business is invariably at risk of stagnation or death because of this delay in payment.
It goes without saying that this problem doesn’t affect only the agriculture product supplier, as different industries face similar issues.
In the course of their entrepreneurial journey, Itumeleng Moagi, Kelvin Tyron, Ndifreke Anwanakak and Samuel Oriaku met at the Pan-African Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) in 2018.
As Entrepreneurs-in-Training (EIT) at MEST, they created Nvoicia, a product designed to address this underlying problem.
“We needed to come up with a solution that served these SMEs with ease of access to financing and with less hassle. That means delivering a product that was convenient and fast while requiring little documentation and no collateral investment. That’s how Nvoicia was formed,” Tumi, COO of Nvoicia says.
Bridging the gap
At MEST, the co-founders took part in a program that challenges young and aspiring entrepreneurs to provide tech-enabled solutions to problems in Ghana’s agricultural sector. A major requirement was to embark on market research; it opened their horizons as to the scope of the problem.
While doing their research, access to finance and unpaid invoices were one of the most common problems that were frequently brought up.
Incidentally, while starting out as an entrepreneur, Nvoicia’s CEO, Kelvin Tyron noted that he had similar experiences.
“I have spent some time tinkering with a few businesses which included a startup in Product UI/UX development along my journey. While running this business, I encountered the problem of delayed payments which Nvoicia seeks to solve. So it was an easy decision with conviction when research led us this way,” he says.
Making a difference
Today, Nvoicia assists with unpaid invoices and access to capital loans by using invoices as collateral. With this opportunity, SMEs can now operate efficiently and expand their businesses.
The startup has gone through various phases to deliver on processes and pricing they see fit as best. Hence its partnership with SME associations and consultants while collaborating with other tech companies and startups.
In doing this though, the founders encountered a number of challenges. Particularly because access to finance is a big problem in Ghana.
“Demand has been very high and this has challenged us to find a balance and increase capacity faster than we anticipated,” says Kelvin.
As a business, it has had to prioritize convenience and speed, thereby going the route of allowing users to access the service on-the-go. This offering comes particularly appealing to business owners who have very little time spend.
“By optimising our technology and processes, our business is able to deliver this value,” Kelvin adds.
The startup’s mindset of being different also reflects on the business model. Whenever an SME makes use of Nvoicia, they pay a percentage on the value of their invoice as a fee for the service. From January till date, the startup claims to have processed financing request of over $100,000. And these numbers would increase as the startup ramps up the number of businesses it is serving.
Looking into the future
Nvoicia started out in Ghana’s agriculture sector. But having figured that lack of access to working capital was a challenge across various industries, they now also serve hospitality, logistics, construction and engineering industries.
Armed with a $100,000 seed funding from MEST, Nvoicia has sights on the Nigerian market as well. The startup also plans to develop more products that address financial inclusion for underserved SMEs across the continent.
In order to execute this, Nvoicia sees key industry players, both traditional financial institutions and the fintech community, as partners rather than competitors.
“If the goal is to develop Africa, partnerships that unlock such impact should always have a seat at the table,” Kelvin concludes.
Jan. 18: Bonus Built in Africa episode: Town Hall meeting with Peter Salovey, President of Yale University
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