Naira Manager, a financial management web based application for SME’s is designed to boost financial inclusion and probity among the millions of MSMEs operating in Nigeria and later elsewhere across the globe.
According to Mebele Ify, the founder and CEO, the web application features agent banking, business planning and management tools such as financial intelligence, business modeling, forecasting, real time financial analysis, business information, business networking and loan/grant application.
“We believe that for us to reap the fruits of growth in Africa technological innovation must not only be inclusive but must drive equality across the continent. We have started the journey to ensure a financially Inclusive Africa by launching the first solution in Africa’s largest market, Nigeria,” he said.
The financial sector is undergoing changes globally, mainly driven by technological innovations, business models and new customer behaviors and changes in regulations after the 2008 financial crisis. In Africa, Ify believes that these changes are creating unprecedented opportunity to achieve universal access to finance and financial inclusion. Models like agent banking, branchless distribution, mobile banking are reducing costs and risk also enabling reach to the previously unbanked population, including in poor and low-density areas on the continent.
The Continent’s growth has relied on resource extraction and export, however this has been revealed as an unsustainable growth agenda. The new driver of the African economy is the current boom in small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs). Today, small and growing businesses create around 80% of the Africa’s employment, establishing a new middle class and fuelling demand for new goods and services.
But inadequate regulation, low income levels and lack of understanding of financial principles for SMEs and business owners are limiting finance penetration. One of the greatest challenges however is access to credit, which remains a hurdle for SMEs in Africa. Addressing the issue has been a priority for the private sector, governments and regional organizations for several years.
According to The Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria, 73.24% of the topmost priority of assistance needed by MSMEs’ operators is finance. In addition, only 4.2% of 17.2 million MSMEs have been able to access loans or overdrafts from financial institutions while new entrants or start-ups find it practically impossible to access funds from banks. The reason being that most MSMEs cash flow isn’t stable; it cannot be traced thereafter making it difficult for them to get grants or loans.
With about 350 million adults excluded from the formal financial ecosystem as of 2014, sub-Saharan Africa offers considerable opportunities to expand access to and usage of formal financial services. (“GSMA Intelligence” 2014)
Over the next five years, an additional 168 million people will be connected by mobile services across Africa, reaching 725 million unique subscribers by 2020. The number of Africans joining the working age population will exceed that of the rest of the world combined by 2035, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).