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Sparkle for Business Launches to Power Nigeria’s SMEs

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Sparkle for Business Launches to Power Nigeria’s SMEs, SiliconNigeria

Sparkle, a mobile-first digital ecosystem providing financial, lifestyle and business support services to Nigerians across the globe, has launched Sparkle Business, a new service on the existing Sparkle mobile application, to help small businesses and SMEs access the much-needed products and services to grow their enterprises digitally. 

Sparkle Business features include:

  • Inventory and Invoice Management: To help businesses maintain control over their payment requests and overall operations
  • Payment Gateway Service: To manage single and bulk payments more seamlessly
  • Tax Advisory/Calculations: To help evaluate business turnover and calculate tax filings
  • Payroll/Employee Management: To manage employee payments and benefits effectively without error or human interventions, and much more.

The platform has been designed with mobile-first, digital native entrepreneurs and companies in mind, who need to run all aspects of their enterprises, at the touch of a button. 

Since launch in 2020, Sparkle has grown a community built on trust and transparency, helping thousands to experience a new, easy, stress-free approach to organising their finances.

 In Nigeria, SMEs contribute 48% of national GDP, account for 96% of businesses and 84% of employment, however they often face challenges with making strategic decisions due to lack of data for key insights into important issues that affect their business. Built by the Sparkle team to support Nigeria’s millions of SMEs as they scale, Sparkle Business will bring all essential business transactions onto one safe and simple to use platform. 

Commenting on the launch, Uzoma Dozie, Founder and CEO of Sparkle, said, “SMEs are the largest employer of labour in Nigeria but are lacking access to basic services that will help their businesses. We have introduced Sparkle Business as a one stop shop, to help individuals to launch their businesses digitally, while meeting existing SMEs’ pain points, and allowing them to pivot to the next level of success.

“We have been afforded this opportunity due to our extensive research and access to data, which allows us to know what exactly SMEs are looking for. We are truly excited about the initial results from the beta test and are looking forward to impactful results for small businesses in the near future.”

Sparkle Business is live now and can be accessed by current Sparkle users who have registered businesses in Nigeria. To register, individuals will need to have a personal Sparkle account, Tax Identification Number [TIN], and an email address connected to their TIN.  

Uzoma, having worked in retail banking for over 20 years, has unrivalled experience when it comes to building banking products for businesses. He adds, “Sparkle was built to allow individuals to be free; Sparkle Business is an extension of this, so that business owners can reduce friction when it comes to important administrative transactions.

Sparkle for Business Launches to Power Nigeria’s SMEs, SiliconNigeria

‘We’re excited to roll out our new products and services, and to continue to grow an increasingly busy and entrepreneurial group of business owners who don’t want to accept that banking halls and physical paper trails are the only means of conducting business in Nigeria,” he added. 

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SME

Facebook Tips Nigerian Businesses How to Adapt During Ramadan

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Facebook Tips Nigerian Businesses How to Adapt During Ramadan, SiliconNigeria

Facebook has unveiled findings of a study conducted during Ramadan 2020, with over 17,000 respondents across eleven countries including Nigeria to help businesses plan and adapt during this year’s Ramadan.

The research explored a range of areas, including people’s purchasing and media habits, the impact of COVID-19, the role of influencer content and how communities give back. It highlights the booming e-commerce industry is significantly driving the digital economy in Nigeria.

Conducted by Facebook IQ, Facebook’s insights and research division, in partnership withYouGov, a global public opinion and data company, the study showed that during Ramadan, people want to come together, whether virtually or socially distanced, to share the joy with loved ones.

Over 17,000 respondents across eleven countries including Nigeria participated. Approximately 1,500 interviews were completed with samples that were representative of the adult online population across age, gender and region in each market.

The research highlights the booming e-commerce industry is significantly driving the digital economy in Nigeria. Here are six tips forNigerianbrands and businesses to effectively adapt and plan this Ramadan:

●        Discover new ways to support businesses

The theme of giving back is deeply rooted in Ramadan. People are increasingly giving back with time and money – and this extends to local businesses too. 90% agree that brands should find ways of giving back during Ramadan. As people personally contribute to their communities, they increasingly expect the same of businesses. They want brands to express their values, speak authentically and stand up for causes they care about. In fact, the research also shows that 77% of survey respondentsin Nigeriabecame more interested in a brand after learning about their business practices. That is why brands must raise awareness of their support for local businesses and the community during the pandemic in a clear and simple way.

●        Discover mobile audiences

During Ramadan, people look to technology, especially mobile, to stay up-to-date and connect with family and friends. They also use mobile to shop and stay entertained.  Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, mobile has become the constant companion driving additional time spent on the small screen. The research shows that 52% of survey respondents in Nigeria spend more time using their mobile during the season. This means that more people are now using mobile across discovery, research and purchase compared to going in store. Knowing this, brands must leverage the rise in mobile entertainment and resources to reach the right audience where they are adapting to how and where they like to discover new things.

●        Discover partnerships

Creators offer a new source of credibility. Amongst the Ramadan observing and shopping community surveyed in Nigeria, 58% agreed that public figures and celebrities influence their purchasing decisions. They look to public figures for self-improvement content as well as deals, especially when it comes to discovering and purchasing new products and services. Brands must therefore engage with partners and creators to help reach new audiences in an authentic way and should explore collaborating with creators who can inspire, generate deals and announce trends.

●        Discover new demand

The demand from shoppers to browse and shop safely online is greater than ever as they spend less time shopping in physical stores. According to the research, 67% of survey respondentsin Nigeria spent more time shopping online during the Ramadan and Eid season because of COVID-19. On average, shoppers in Nigeria are 3x more likely to feel safer using mobile to shop, compared to in store. This year, brands must understand their audience’s needs and safety concerns when shopping online and on mobile, offering cross-border shoppers a frictionless experience throughout the entire purchase journey, both safely and conveniently.

●        Discover new opportunities

Ramadan is one of the biggest shopping moments of the year, yet most advertisers switch off spending during this time, based on the misapprehension that most people finish their Ramadan shopping early. People, however, are continually preparing their homes, meals and gifts for loved ones and are looking out for the best deals before and during the season. While 28% of the respondents in Nigeria started planning by March last year, about a month before celebrations started, only 18% had completed their shopping when Ramadan actually started. The research also indicates that the periods just before Ramadan and Eid are the biggest shopping periods. Brands must plan ahead to stay relevant and prepared for these shopping peaks, reminding people of what they love by tapping into their preferences.

●        Discover bargain hunters

As the impact of COVID-19 is felt locally, shoppers are increasingly price-sensitive and look to Facebook for deals and inspiration. 68% of the respondents in Nigeria look to discover more bargains during Ramadan and Eid. This price sensitivity applies to essentials like food and beverages, as well as to clothing and gift items, making mega sales all the more important during Ramadan. The research also indicates that in Nigeria, 67% of the respondents said they use Facebook platforms for inspiration, research and to discover new shopping ideas.

You can also take a closer look at theFBIQ Ramadan Interactive Report explore, compare and filter the findings to inform your Ramadan planning, understand audience expectations and forge more meaningful connections.  

Through Facebook’s partnership with Getty Images, brands and marketers can also access the Yalla Ramadan stock image library to adapt their Ramadan campaigns and find visual inspiration.

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COVID-19, Technology and the New Face of Small Businesses

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COVID-19 Technology and the New Face of Small Businesses, SiliconNigeria

By Akeem Lawal, DCEO, Payment Processing, Interswitch

The outbreak of coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) has had devastating impact that the world is still dealing with. Apart from the negative health implications, the COVID-19 pandemic has also crippled economies and businesses across the globe.

Suffice to say that, the resultant effect of the pandemic has led to job losses, pay cuts, travel restrictions and consequently fall in foreign trade and general business activities. The businesses most hit is the Micro Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).

A recent survey by the International Trade Centre (ITC) revealed that the pandemic has strongly affected nearly two-thirds of micro and small businesses – compared to about 40% of large companies – with 20% of MSMEs feared to shut down permanently at some points soon.

Interestingly, the survey revealed that 40% of the companies that came out strong from the pandemic were mainly technology driven businesses. In the financial services industry, fintech companies including Interswitch, Flutterwave, Paystack have fared very well. For instance, the National Bureau of Statistics report shows that digital payment transaction grew from 10.3 trillion Naira in January 2020 to 20 trillion Naira in December 2020.

The SME sector remains a potential game changer for economic growth globally, including Nigeria. This is why it is important for stakeholders in the economy to provide simple solutions that will enhance their ability to generate economic activities that will boost community and national economy.

Knowing the importance of small businesses to national economies, many governments implemented support programmes to assist MSMEs following the pandemic. In Nigeria, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) earmarked $136.6 million as credit relief for MSMEs businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic revealed the frailties of many SMEs in terms of little or no digital infusion. However, the pandemic has not been all gloom as it has opened up vistas of opportunities inherent in technology and its application. Today we have seen an upsurge in the adoption of technology across several sectors. Businesses have digitized their operations, adopted remote work models and moved their services online as physical interactions have reduced. The adoption of technology is not only sustaining businesses; it is opening up new opportunities and even markets. Basically, what technology has done is to throw up insight of possible solutions as well provide the roadmap to navigate these possibilities.

For businesses to bounce back from the pandemic, it is important that they define their community (market) as it relates to the business – and how and where to meet them. This is where technology comes to play as many of its solutions will help boost lead generation, seamless payment, effective management, visibility and increased revenue. So, business must transit onto the digital divide.

In order to assist more businesses, especially the MSMEs achieve this transition seamlessly, Interswitch has reformed its Webpay platform to Quickteller Business. The new platform enables businesses of all sizes; small, medium, large to take their businesses online without owning a website or having prior technology.

The Quickteller Business platform is intuitive and robust. It provides seamless payment solutions for businesses and their customers. Business owners are able to manage their processes more efficiently like generating invoices to track sales and payments, customized storefront to display products and brand image, backend access to manage inventory, dispute management options to settle chargebacks and refunds.

Beyond the obvious solution the Quickteller Business portends, the platform also exposes the users to a ready market of over five million potential customers. The Quickteller platform boast of over 5 million subscribers from Nigeria and East Africa and all Quickteller Business users are automatically exposed to this community.

With all of these issues taken care of by a single platform, business owners on the platform can focus on other aspects of their businesses such as production, capacity building etc. Surviving the challenging business environment is enough task for business owners these days. Providing simple solutions that make their processes more effective, allow them time to increase productivity and provide possibility to scale are the objectives of the Quickteller Business.

In summary, business owners can take full control of their businesses by digitizing their operations now. With the pandemic changing the dynamics of business operations, it is imperative for SMEs to embrace technology in every form – and the Quickteller Business platform is a good place to start!

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Financial

MTN Nigeria Launches MTN EnGauge Platform For SME Business Transactions

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MTN Nigeria Launches MTN EnGauge Platform For SME Business Transactions, SiliconNigeria

MTN Nigeria has introduced a new unified customer engagement platform, EnGauge, designed to enable small-to-medium enterprise (SME) business owners seamlessly administer transactions with customers, potentially increasing their productivity significantly.

Developed in partnership with Ajua, a leading African start-up, MTN EnGauge is an agile application that offers innovative customer management solutions, including digital payments using a unique USSD code, CRM tools, customer feedback channels, debt management and tracking, business and product promotions through mobile and social media channels.

The solution is downloadable on the Google Play store and only available on the MTN network (for now) with a monthly subscription of N500 and a yearly subscription of N5,500. Following installation and registration, businesses are automatically provided with a unique USSD code that allows their customers to interact, transact and communicate with them in real-time.

With MTN Engauge, entrepreneurs can securely receive payment, track transactions with each of their customers and glean valuable insights to serve them better based on their preferences and buying behaviour.

Chief Enterprise Business Officer, MTN Nigeria, said Lynda Saint-Nwafor said, “MTN EnGauge is the ideal platform for business owners and entrepreneurs to thrive in the ‘new normal.’ Entrepreneurs have had to re-organise their core business models through backward and forward integration to maintain relevance. The EnGauge mobile application helps make this possible and seamless.”

To showcase the platform, MTN held a live demonstration session via Zoom, where business owners were presented with the benefits of adopting the solution.

The founder and CEO of Ajua, Kenfield Griffith said, “The fundamental engine of business growth is customers. By design, MTN EnGauge solves most of the challenges SMEs experience, from digitally engaging their customers to cash management,” said “With MTN as a partner and their reach across the continent, we believe MTN EnGauge will have a positive and impactful trajectory, driving transformational business growth for SMEs,” he added.

MTN EnGauge was launched to the Y’ello 200 in February, beneficiaries of MTN’s Revv Programme, thus fulfilling the telco giant’s promise that the SMEs will be first to enjoy solutions from her stable.

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