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ENTEJ : economical social network for SMEs

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Tell us a few words about the founders and how the idea came

 Started by Tarek Abd El Latif, co- founder and CEO, Abdel Hamid Zidan co-founder and Technology director, and Mohamed Badr co-founder and Business development director.

– The technical force consists of a team of five researchers, two programmers and a designer.

ENTEJ Network is running the operation to rely on the culture of Collaboration and help practically Members to acquire this culture and encourage members to exploit their skills, competencies, and expertise in projects. Members may have ideas and the capacity to implement, but they are waiting for “something” or “someone” to start.

 Entej abandon the idea of the individual who is capable of achieve a successful project alone without any expertise or the ingredients for success, and Entej adopt and motivate the idea of the teamwork is able to implement a successful and capable of continuity in success and is skillful to support advanced businesses.

Entej reinforce supplementing technique of different business opportunities within the scope of the project to serve other complementing project to enlarge the scope of each type of enterprises.

Link to online video

Your products and services  

Entej Provides a working relationship, allows sharing of experiences and capabilities and provide as much information on the different types of projects and create complementary opportunities between small and medium-sized enterprises on the one hand, companies and entrepreneurs the other hand

Is a business engine and a guide to search and meet industrial, commercial and service companies and open new horizons for trade and investment in the area. B2B search tool helps audience to find a name of company, product or service quickly, in addition the categories tool useful to reach sectors and categories of companies, product or service. 


Your success factors 

Fast access to non Internet SMEs/SOHOs in the MENA region. 


Comprehensive Arab opportunities complementing existing businesses, creating new supporting business. 


Saving time searching for nearby, relevant, homogeneous, channel to sell or supply your business. 


Online B2B / B2C economical social portal. 


Enable and empower the internal marketing campaigns. 


Being more cost effective than Google Adsense, which is the usual way to attract leads and traffic via providing 
conversion rate substantially higher than Google. 


Being strong source of Internet traffic based on industrial sector and interest.

Helps promote the SMEs business as well as all other partners from entrepreneurs, investors, experts, and academics, for commercial return.

Opportunity to sample the buyer increases the likely hood of gaining new customers. 


Providing different ways to capture customers, Video, Ad words and Online PR further increases lead generation. 


Timeline all Highlight updates information of opportunities in MENA 

Your factors differentiating and disruptive compared to the existing 

No Well Structured network gather SMEs for the purpose of giving support across all stages of the enterprise.

No reliable platform/portal that give interactions to real business needs.

Few Suppliers online

Missing proper placement to post tenders in all region 


No sample or product exchange such as Alibaba.com 


Poor Arab content

Your business model

We have a freemium model. Consists of free basic services, to publish your project, enquiry, business asset, competency, and knowledge base access.

In addition to premium paid services include, featured account, sponsored product, project, with unlimited business interaction, and Entej advertising

Entej aims to be a one-stop shop for businesses and number one in MENA through creating important portals lacking in the region, which users need.

These portals will help startups and companies grow. Entrepreneurs aiming to generate money should visit Entej daily. Entej’s portals are customized to serve a wide range of business owners.

A few words about your competitors

The direct Competitors are divided into three main categories:

  • Social network providing services to SMEs/SOHO
  • Market places that gather all business partners.

Supportive engine for startups

Your website 

www.entej.com

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Consulting

TKO Consultancy: Personal Financial Coaching Programs in Lesotho

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Could you please introduce yourself and your company?

My name is Tokiso Nthebe, a Financial Literacy Consultant and founder of TKO Consultancy. I am very passionate about financial literacy, public speaking and youth development. I hold a Masters of Commerce (MCom) degree in Financial Management from the University of Pretoria. TKO Consultancy (Pty) Ltd, founded in June 2015, is a company that operates from Maseru (Capital city) in Lesotho. We provide financial education programs that help employed Basotho (people of Lesotho) better manage their money, save and plan for their futures. We also provide financial coaching sessions on a one on one basis to help employees navigate the financial web and achieve their financial goals.

 

How was your company started: what was the main ambition when you started your project?

I registered TKO Consultancy in 2015 and the goal was to provide business advisory services to small-medium businesses (SME) i.e. financial management to help them access credit facilities from commercial banks and build their businesses. At the time I was working for a commercial bank as a Relationship Manager and I was very frustrated with the quality of financial statements received from SMEs when applying for credit facilities. The business did not operate from 2015 to 2016 because I was permanently employed and had limited time. I re-launched the business in 2016 after taking stock of my personal finances and realizing the financial mistakes i.e. high levels of unsecured debt (clothing accounts, personal loans, and credit card), no savings or investments I made as a young professional. It was even worse, being a finance graduate and employee at a bank because I should have known better. I decided to blog about my financial mistakes and share them on social media. This attracted a lot of attention from other young people faced with the same challenges as me.

Secondly, my biggest concern was seeing my friend’s mother change and lower their standard of living when she went to retirement years. I started doing research to better understand why this happened and the findings were not good. Most people going on retirement did not have enough savings to maintain them through retirement and this was a problem in Lesotho and other parts of the world. I continued with the research topic and enrolled for my Master’s degree. These two stories inspired me to re-structure my business and focus on driving financial literacy and encouraging people to plan and save for their retirement.

 

How would you describe financial education in Lesotho when you started your project?

The Central Bank of Lesotho (CBL) in partnership with other financial services providers started the Money Week campaign to drive financial literacy in 2014. The goal of the campaign was to create awareness on money matters and educate Basotho. The campaign, however, only lasted two weeks until 2018 when it was changed to a month-long campaign. When I re-launched my business in 2017, a lot of groundwork had been made, however, there were still so many people that the campaign did not reach. Secondly, the campaign ran only for a week, which was very short to drive the message. There were a few other initiatives to drive financial education but there was still a big opportunity in the market. According to an article by Lesotho Times, about 50% of household income paid a debt, whilst approximately 85% of employees were not prepared for retirement according to Metropolitan.

 

Many young people in Lesotho were embarrassed to talk about money matters. Our goal was to tackle financial challenges that face young people and seek to brainstorm remedies with them.

 

Did you feel that the people around you were in need to get more information about financial education? Do you remember any critical moment when you understood it was an important need?

A lot of people around me were also highly indebted and did not even know what interest they were paying for the credit facilities. The challenge, however, was that too many were embarrassed to talk about money matters. I decided to host a Financial Wellness Seminar in partnership with Metropolitan Lesotho in March 2017 and a total of 40 people attended the seminar. We covered topics such as budgeting, savings and investments, retirement planning and understanding contracts. The questions and feedback from attendees were indicative of the need for financial education. As a follow up from the seminar, I decided to work with Bokang Bane from Bokamoso Fm to host a weekly segment titled #MoneyTalk on Tuesday mornings. Through this platform, our goal was to tackle financial challenges that face young people and seek to brainstorm remedies with them.

It was in 2018 when I realized the importance of financial education. I had the opportunity to present at a Pre-retirement Preparedness workshop held at the National University of Lesotho (NUL) and Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) for employees set to retire within 3-5 years. I was very concerned by the level of anxiety I saw on the faces of the attendees and this made me very uncomfortable. It was evident that many of the attendees were worried about whether they had enough saved up for retirement or not. This was validation that I needed to work hard in my advocacy work for financial wellness and help build a financially educated nation.

 

Could you explain more in detail how do you work: what can one find at TKO Consultancy?

We at TKO Consultancy (Pty) Ltd believe that the solution to addressing the problem is in driving financial literacy campaigns targeting employed professionals. We aim to implement this campaign by sharing relevant financial content via radio interviews, blog posts, and speaking engagements. As part of the awareness campaigns, we also provide financial education workshops for employees by working with Human Resource Officers in the private, public and non-governmental organizations. These programs aim to equip our clients with practical and educational tools (budget and debt management, investment, retirement, tax, health planning, and risk management) that will help them better plan and manage their finances. These workshops are held on-site or held at external venues around the city. Finally, our plan is to match individuals with our team of financial coaches to help develop financial plans that will help clients achieve their financial goals. As a secondary service offering, we also provide presentation skills workshops for employees to help them build their self-confidence to speak and communicate effectively in public.

 

With this age of mobile phone and applications, do you feel that financial independence is easier to achieve nowadays?

I believe that the availability of technology and applications are helping drive the message further. We are able to stream personal finance podcast anytime and read content on our devices with ease because of technology. This has helped a lot because the content is readily available.  There are many applications available that help us a budget and track our spending. The challenge, however, is that unless people are aware of these tools and know-how to use them effectively, financial independence may not be easily achieved. Our goal is to start promoting digital financial education to make it appealing to the younger generation. Many people are transacting using mobile apps and mobile money and it is imperative that we also educate them about the benefits and disadvantage, while also working hard to help those who are excluded participate.

 

A few words about your competitors

The landscape is increasingly becoming competitive as more players enter the market, especially from outside Lesotho. The offering is almost similar and thus becomes important that we differentiate ourselves to stay competitive. There is still a lot of work to be done however, which is an opportunity to grow.

 

What are the forthcoming projects and your goals?

  • We are launching a #SavingsChallenge, a social media campaign in August/September 2019. Every January/February, young people are broke due to excessive spending over the festive season in December. As a result, many experience financial distress and struggle through January and February and often resort to debt instruments to get by i.e. overdrafts, credit cards, etc. This year, TKO Consultancy would like to change the narrative and get young people to be intentional about saving and avoid this situation. The goal is to encourage people to save and to do so regularly and consistently.
  • Personal Finance Master-class planned for September/October 2019. This is the 3rd edition in our master class series for 2019 where we will discuss debt management strategies to help employees reduce their debt levels. The first one held in February focused on the budgeting and the second held in June focused on personal taxes and highlighted the importance of filing tax returns.
  • Digital Financial education: The plan is to digitalize our content and make it readily available to anyone with a smartphone.

Our goal is to partner up with financial services providers in Lesotho and employers to create platforms where we can engage employees on various topics of financial planning. Secondly, we want to increase our client base and grow our business in 2019/2020.

 

TKO Consulting’s success factors

  • A tailored program for clients to address and solve their own pain points
  • Interactive, education and fun experience for our participants
  • Partnering with local companies e.g. Metropolitan Lesotho in 2017, Lesotho Revenue Authority in 2019
  • Hosting successful events e.g. Financial Education seminar, Two personal finance master-classes, and several workshops
  • Participating in the prestigious Mandela Fellowship Program (MWF) under the Leadership in Business at the Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management institute in the United States of America in 2019

 

Websitehttp://tkoconsultancy.com/

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/www.tkoconsultant.co.ls/

 

 

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Finance

SIKADAN LOANS & SOLUTIONS: changing the narrative of financial services in Ghana

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Financial illiteracy among traders and other businesses in the informal sector has been identified as a major contributing factor to the high level of poverty in the country.

Studies have indicated that the informal economy in Ghana, which is dominated by wholesale and retail trade and services, had a huge potential for job and income generation.

The SIKADAN Solutions is a financial & business literacy clinic for prospective market vendors and SMEs who want to access SIKADAN loans for their businesses.

SIKADAN believes that offering market vendors and businesses the right financial coaching and practical business guidance is a better way of empowering their businesses and strategically repositioning them for financial support with much priority on making a positive difference in the socio-economic lives of women vendors.

Loans may always go bad if the lender doesn’t understand and know the nature, challenges and strength of the businesses their money is going into.

Loans are aimed to create shared value for both the lender and borrower and mitigating strategies must be designed to achieve such.

The SIKADAN Solutions is the first requirement that needs to be fulfilled by any prospective clients who want to access SIKADAN’s Business and Group Loan.

Solutions & Credit Officer (SCO) is assigned to each client to understand the nature of their business and design a tailored business solutions to meet their needs.

The technical profile report by our SCO will determine whether the client indeed need a loan or not. Most often, a loan may not be the solutions to their demands.

This initiative is also aimed to bridge the gap between the formal and informal sector in financial literacy. Participants shall be schooled once every month on savings, cutting down cost, issuing of receipts and proper accounting practices among many basic business practices.

Market vendors especially women who want to access our Loan must first enrol in our Market Vendor Business Education (MBE) certification.

The MBE shall be our main requirement for our Group Loan Products.

We believe this will go a long way to help the clients in the following added advantage;

  • Enhance their financial literacy
  • Improve their business skills and practices
  • Add value to their goods & services
  • Increase their market share and sales
  • Attain stabilized growth and become profitable
  • To become competitive both in the traditional and modern markets.

Are you a market vendor? Are you an SME? Do you want to start a new business? If yes is your answer then all you need is SIKADAN Solutions & Loans.

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Finance

FONE4 AFRICA : Pay as you phone

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The founders

For several years, Alexandre FRONSACQ lives and works part of the year in West Africa, Senegal and Guinea Bissau.

In contact with his teams and the people with whom he works, he discovered the new uses of phone developed in Africa. He used regularly for his activity services like WARI or WESTERN UNION, and in particular, he discovered the new ways of payment and money transfer by SMS and USSD (as OrangeMoney or M-Pesa).

In 2016, just over a year ago, he met Jean-Marc LEVY DREYFUS who created the FONE4 software suite.
Together they realized how FONE4 was adapted to the banking uses, money transfer habits and phone payment that is spreading across Africa.

Doctor in Law and former lawyer, Alexandre has been working in Africa for 10 years. He participated in the installation of several companies in Senegal and Guinea Bissau. Jean-Marc is a self-taught in the field of software creation and publishing. In the 2000s, he launched an Internet software publishing company that developed Fone4Technology : an electronic money account and transaction management solution.

They decided to create FONE4 AFRICA to develop FONE4 and offer all Africans the only money transfer service, payment and banking, “easy as a call”.

Our services

FONE4 is a software that combines the proven technologies of databases, Internet services and Interactive Voice Server.

This solution is for banks and financial institutions.

It allows the latter who implement it to operate a private solution of electronic wallet and use of payment and dematerialized transfer without deploying cards or payment terminals, and without depending on the services of a third party network.

The pilot operating system organizes and secures in real time account-to-account, deposit, withdrawal and account management transactions from instructions issued by the account holder either by telephone or via the Internet.

The process does not require any specific software installation on the user’s terminal and does not use any electronic accessories (smartphone, USB key, audiotone signal transmitter …).

The FONE4 application is provided customized and installed on an Internet server belonging to the financial operator who implements the payment system, or belonging to FONE4 depending on the type of service desired.
FONE4 is designed to adapt the platform as the number of accounts and managed transactions increases. Your success factors.

The FONE4 product received the FINANCE INNOVATION label in June 2017 and its payment function FoneToPay won the 2017 “Grand Prix Banque et Innovation” in the M-Banking E-Banking category.

 Differentiating and disruptive factors compared to the existing

The FONE4 mobile payment and funds transfer solution we offer is a radical departure from existing solutions.

• The system does not need to read and write, it speaks in the language of the user.
• The system does not require any user training or app installation on the terminal, the system indicates the things to do step by step.
• The system works regardless of your telecom operator.
• The system works regardless of your device, mobile or not, whether you own it or not.
• It is available 24/365. Just have to access to a phone.
It is a 100% digital solution (currency and transfer technology), secure (blockchain technology) and offered to banks the only operators authorized to carry out international transactions.
Finally, FONE4 is a banking tool for every one who have or not access to traditional banking services.

Business model

The revenues of FONE4 AFRICA come from:

• Operating licenses for application servers
• Fees taken on transactions made on the platform
• Additional services for setting up options

Competition

In B2C, the competitors of our solution are either telephone operators offering SMS and USSD money transfer and payment services (OrangeMoney, MTN Mobile Money, M-Pesa …) or money transfer operators within the network, border and / or cross-border (Western Union, Wari, JoniJoni, Express Union …).
The services of our competitors do not respond to one or more of the following difficulties:
• They are not multipurpose (transfer of money but not payment, for example)
• They are attached to a phone network (Orange, MTN …)
• They need for user to know how to read and write a specific language
• They require the possession of a specific type of terminal or access to a mobile broadband Internet network (4G)
• They impose the installation of an application on the terminal and an apprenticeship to use it
• They are not available 24/365
• They have a very high operating cost for the user
• They can not do cross-border transactions
• They do not participate in the financial inclusion of populations.

FONE4 allows its customers to offer a service that performs all these operations to users easily.

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