Absa sees small businesses as an impetus for growth in the economy, but that will require more than opening a bank account and hoping for the best.
Keketso Motsoene, Absa’s acting managing executive for KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga, says the bank enables the success of small businesses by offering a comprehensive range of financial and non-financial tools and services.
It is not enough to simply provide a small business with a bank account and expect things to run smoothly. Motsoene explains that after extensive research into the kind of problems typically encountered by small businesses, Absa decided that it had to tilt the odds of success in favour of its clients through a variety of non-financial interventions, such as Absa Enterprise Development support services.
Moneyweb asked Motsoene about some of the tools and products that Absa offers small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) .
What would you say is the number one tool required when starting a business?
Research is critical. Many entrepreneurs have great ideas, but they must be thoroughly researched. We always advise entrepreneurs to go out and find what problem they intend to solve through their business idea, and this should be reflected in a well-constructed business plan.
One’s business plan is the document that will speak for them in their absence and encourage funders and partners to sign up for the journey.
What would your advice be to someone who wants to start a business?
It is important to look at a business opportunity that talks to your passion.
Research and analysis play a critical role. Look for specific information on the market that you want to serve.
Get a sense of how you are going to commercialise your product or service, do your competitor analysis – test your idea against the market. Be clear on the profitability and what your start-up cost will be. What do your overheads look like? You need to understand all the financial aspects of the business.
Having this full understanding of your business will also give funders the comfort that as an entrepreneur, you understand what you are getting into.
Furthermore, I would advise that you develop your own business community and networks by joining business forums, chambers of commerce and groups such as these. A good place to get information is to engage our specialist Enterprise Development teams, who have the skills to advise you on starting a business. They can also guide you regarding information on financial and non-financial support, such as skills development, and connect you with the Absa network to fully equip you in holistically managing your business.
Open yourself up to new networks and capitalise on the opportunities that you come across. Speak to your bank. We are here to guide and help you achieve your growth ambitions.
As a start-up, how do I choose the most appropriate bank account?
Again, research plays an important role. There are different accounts to manage different activities emanating from business type and size.
At Absa, we have recently launched the Business Evolve Account. This is a flexible account that evolves as the entrepreneur’s business grows.
It is a transactional account specifically designed for sole proprietors and start-ups with a package where there are no monthly fees. It offers end-to-end digital onboarding and Cashflow Manager – an accounting and business management tool that puts you in total control of your business’s finances.
Absa has adopted a relationship banking approach to our small business clients. This, as the name suggests, is based on a relationship with the entrepreneur as they embark on their journey, and is aimed at helping them make the right choices on that journey.
How do you, as a financial institution, support a new business?
We walk the journey with you from the inception of your business, evolving from a start-up right up to a fully-fledged commercial entity.
Many start-up businesses need access to finance, and we help them get to the point where they can be assisted to apply for finance. We fund equipment, working capital and also provide solutions such as Smart Pay merchant devices, eCommerce gateways and cash management solutions.
The Absa Business Evolve Account is designed with the entrepreneur in mind, to evolve with them as they grow. It is fully digital, available 24/7 and has a tiered pricing structure to meet different needs.
It includes preferential rates and a free merchant device on selected packages, and access to a free range of embedded products (such as a debit card, access to digital channels, a demand call account and Cashflow Manager, which is a sophisticated accounting management app to keep track of cash, working capital and financial statements).
Collateral is an issue for new start-ups looking for finance. We work with developmental finance partners to help entrepreneurs overcome this hurdle, to lower the barrier for funding.
Entrepreneurship is a critical vehicle for job creation and driving the economy. Supporting businesses across the spectrum remains our key focus as financial institutions.
Absa is your partner and we get very excited about providing solutions for entrepreneurs.
What kind of non-financial support can you offer entrepreneurs?
As a bank, we will help you with non-financial support through our Enterprise Development division.
We offer various guarantees to help with the issue of security for lending as we understand that, as a start-up, you may not meet all requirements as you may not have built a strong business that can support that type of request yet.
Our non-financial support also includes connecting you with our strategic stakeholders, such as:
- Smart Procurement World – to assist with access to markets where SMEs who are ready to be suppliers are matched up with corporate buyers.
- Lionesses of Africa – a female empowerment network that provides business assistance, brand visibility on its platforms, and the ability to interact with a wide and growing network of members.
- Access to Absa-organised events and webinars on a variety of relevant business topics, from upskilling workshops to educational seminars and network building opportunities.
Brought to you by Absa Retail and Business Banking.
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