Safaricom and KCB on Wednesday announced a partnership and a launch of the [email protected] product that is targeted towards Kenyan Small and Medium Enterprises. What the product aims to solve is provide leverage for small and medium businesses that are starting up and might not have all the resources they need to be successful. Problems like access to finance, low penetration of technology and business management tools.
Bob Collymore, Safaricom CEO see this as a very huge opportunity of transforming the Kenyan economy while at the same time empowering SMEs to have that competitive advantage. “[email protected] aims to bring all these advantages to the 1 million SMES, a market with 45% of Kenya’s GDP and also where 8 out of 10 new jobs which stand at 7.5 million jobs also come from,” said Bob.
Products within the [email protected] include:
- Business domains and hosting
- Finance management cloud services like payroll, accounting and human resource applications
- Business Management Tips
- Zidisha Biashara
- Lipa Na Mpesa
The product is accessible via a USSD menu *484# where a user gets to select from the two initial products, [email protected] and [email protected] depending on the startup capacities and requirements. [email protected] is basically the entry level hosting product that is bundled with a bank account at KCB which can give you access to unsecured loans of upto Kshs 20,000 while [email protected] is a range of three that has the hosting, secured business loans of upto 1 million repayable in 2 years, Tablets for business and the Zidisha Biashara communication package.
As far as financing, a usually quite tricky thing for startups that haven’t been in business for long is concerned, KCB CEO Joshua Oigara, does agree that the [email protected] does in a way make it easier to understand the customer and thus increase the probability of giving unsecured loans based on cash flow to the businesses.
“Currently we have over 2 billion shillings in unsecured loans and 18% of these are to SMEs, we are moving our approach to more of cash flow based assessment as opposed to securities as a factor to loans and with credit information sharing currently active we have a foundation to use cash flow as opposed to securities. Yes, working with Safaricom does provide an umbrella in way of better understanding the customer,” said Joshua.