Uganda is ranked as the world’s most entrepreneurial country by Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), recording the highest youth entrepreneurs with 55.6 per cent of the youth population involved in new or established businesses.
However, many of those businesses which are small and medium in nature do not live to celebrate their first anniversary.
Experts say that failure to trace cash-flow is one of the many reasons why Ugandan SMEs’ life-span is short.
However, as the world embraces the fourth industrial revolution, technologies and innovations are coming in handy to save the failing businesses, keep their books, manage and track their inventory, handle sales and expenses.
One of those solutions or platforms is Swipe2pay- a fully functional web and mobile point of sale.
Swipe2pay developer Solomon Kitumba says this digital tool was developed to help SMEs sell smarter and manage better their businesses. But also in the long make it easy for SMEs to access finance from banks.”
Some of the functions of this tool or app are to provide a mobile point of sale where small businesses can first manage their businesses in inventory management, sales and expenses.
“We do basic business accounting for them, we give them stock alerts in case their stock is running out and scope of how the business is running in real-time,” Kitumba says.
This tool also helps one track or monitor the day-to-day running of the business even in their absence.
“Through icons like the working business owner on this platform, you might be working at a corporate company but own a business downtown. So we give you a dashboard where you just log in and see how the business is running in real-time,” he explains.
Within this platform, there is an inbuilt payment layer, which makes it easy for people who sell in retail or wholesale shops in Kampala to accept any other model payment other than cash.
He says they have also built a payment layer for SMEs working for all the models of mobile payment systems to manage their businesses.
Kitumba says at first, he was running another company called Yoga. But when it failed, he went back and started working with his father who has friends who have chains of spare parts shops around downtown Kampala.
While into this business of spare parts, he says: “I was seeing guys managing business the same way from since we were born. Like a book and pen every time, if it is full they throw it away, buy another and do it again, when a customer comes to buy stuff they have to first check over 10 shelves whether that item is existent, inventory, so the system was literally broken.”
So his first step was to help these traders check whether an item is available at a shop or not. This is when he built his first prototype that helped them know the inventory of their stock.
“If a customer comes to the shop, you don’t have to first walk around the store to find whether a particular product is or not available,” he says.
While still in the spare parts business, Kitumba realised that every time a person wanted to pay with mobile money or a card, it was impossible. So he also built a payment layer.
As a company, they have earned between $3,000 and $5,000 profit every month depending on the turnaround.
With no start-up capital but equipped with his ideas in the brain, Kitumba together with his two colleagues started the platform within six months.
“The first money we invested was over Shs800,000 in registering the company. Nearly two years down the road, they have been able to raise an investment of over $80,000 (Shs296m),” he recalls.
Kitumba’s clients are very small merchant business people like grocery shops and small supermarkets.
Currently, the company works with over 1,500 merchants, they’ve helped to track more than $1 million (Shs3.7b) in a transaction.
“We have been able to keep transactions for merchants for over $200, 000 (Shs740m) in less than the two-years they’ve been operating.
Their platform can be accessed by Kampala, Jinja and Mbarara traders.
The platform is 99 per cent working in Uganda, with accounts from all over the world.
The company currently employs a team of seven people. They have also benefited from networks and partnerships with FITSPA (Financial Technology Service Providers Association of Uganda) and Interswitch.
“These partnerships have made it easy for us to link to banks and other organisations because it is easier to start a conversation through the bigger organisation,” Kitumba says.
How it works
This platform can be accessed via the Google Play Store. Just search for Swipe2 pay and then sign up with your phone number and you are good to go.
If you are selling books, you start categorsing the books and insert other items. The platform helps organise your shop electronically.
So, when someone just wants to buy the books, they choose the item and number.
When it comes to the mode of payment, if it is cash, it will be a cash sale and if it is mobile money payment, you enter their phone number. On their side, their phone asks them to enter the pin.
After that, your transaction is recorded on the cloud, by the system.
When the items are running out, the platform sends you an alert that you are running short of say books and need to restock.
“At the end of let’s say the third or the fourth month, we send you a report where you know the fastest moving items on your stock. Maybe that is what you should concentrate on. It is usually business intelligence, we want you to sell smarter and manage better,” Kitumba shares.