Nigeria’s SpacePointe is focused on helping African Small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) increase their bottom line revenue in their Offline and Online market channels
By helping SME’s adopt Online Market Channel, SpacePointe says there is naturally a huge opportunity for ecommerce businesses across Africa and true adoption will come with understanding and creating a technology platform along with programs around how Africans buy their everyday products, browse the internet and pay for goods and services on a day-to-day basis.
“SpacePointe is focused on enabling African SMEs increase their bottom-line revenue via an online marketplace,” Sayu Abend – Chief Executive Officer told TechMoran. “We plan on launching the marketplace to enable SMEs very easily sell their products online without the incurring the cost associated with website development and marketing. SpacePointe has selected Nigeria as the pilot market with a distinct focus on 12 key states.”
Officially registered as a business in Nigeria this March by Sayu Abend CEO, Osato Osayande – President and COO, Edward Osayande, CFO and Karl Abend as the GM, SpacePointe says taking Nigeria as its pilot market where only 17% of the 17.6 Million registered SMEs in Nigeria have Point of Sale (POS) devices was a challenge.
However, with the “Cashless Society” Initiative by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Abend says there is the growing need to enable SMEs through the transition. SpacePointe is therefore partnering with notable players in the banking and technology space to distribute and setup mobile POS devices to SMEs as part its SME program enablement from Offline (at the store with a POS device) to the online marketplace.
“We were driven by the desire to live fulfilled lives in knowing that we have made a real difference in the lives of people,” Abend told TechMoran. “As people blessed with good education and exposure to innovation from all over the world, it became evident that we needed to look inward to a place we all call home and ask the very important question: “What can we do to help? With the knowledge and experience we have gained, what is our part in elevating the lives of Africans” At the end of the day, we want to say, “We accomplished what was entrusted into our hands, we helped people come out of poverty, we elevated the lives of people in Africa and we saw dreams become reality in the lives of Africans”
Abend adds that SpacePoint also launched to solve a need.
There were no startups in the online commerce sector with a genuine and thorough focus around the needs of the African SME. SMEs are fundamental to the economy and until they are properly considered and adequately enabled in a way that makes them truly thrive as SMEs, the African economy will not grow as well as it could and should.
SpacePointe is looking to provide an end-to-end solution for the African SME, there are two integrated solutions that will be embedded in the SME offering. It’s Online Marketplace will enable SME’ sell their products online without having to do website setup or payment processing and marketing. SpacePointe also aim to heavily market to consumers for the benefit of exposing them to SME offerings on the marketplace plus give them simple inventory management and easily understandable reporting that will be very insightful for the SME in helping them grow their business.
Another service will be the Mobile Point of Sale Device with multiple components to serve SME’s. It will also partner with and integrate with existing processors (acting only as a pass through) for the payment processing component of the POS.
“We do not plan to reinvent the wheel. We will collaborate with relevant partners to ensure that we are presenting the best end-to-end solution to the African SMEs,” Abend says.
The platform aims to make money by collecting a small fee for processing each online and offline transaction. The self-funded is very excited and really grateful to be among the DEMO Africa 40 where they are planning to launch.But there have been challenges along the way.”In deciding to go after this business, we were thankfully hit with comments like “but I thought these companies are already doing some part of what you are doing?” That question made us really zone into why SpacePointe exists today and what we feel makes us distinctly competent in this market,” says Abend. “It really does not matter if 50 companies have launched a similar product into the market place. What matters most is adoption. Early adopters can give the initial illusion of success until you look at the true facts. If we are still at 0.1% penetration rate in online buying in Africa, then we can safely say that we have not even scratched the surface of success.”SpacePointe has competition in both the offline and the online segments. But says its approach to tackle and integrate both channels for the benefit of the SME are there strong competitive advantage.”We believe that our market strategy gives us our distinctive competence. Again our focus is on the SME and we have done our homework in researching barriers to SME adoption as it relates to selling online as well as in their ability to accept cashless payments. It is not as simple as it seems. There are lots of barriers to overcome. We have taken the time to ask ourselves the question: “How can we fail in this business?” The answers (to this question) have driven our design of innovative solutions to meet the needs of the African SME,” Abend told TechMoran.