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There are many small enterprises that go out of business every year because of the informal manner by which they conduct their bookkeeping.
Most SMEs rely on traditional bookkeeping methods-maintaining ledgers on paper-which is futile when looking for financial support.
Crepin Kayisire and Kevin Kayisire, the founders of Kayko, a platform aimed at powering small businesses with tools to accelerate their growth and thrive in the digital economy, perceived this gap and created tools that would build commerce solutions to help SMEs simplify their bookkeeping and day-to-day operations.
For a long time, small businesses have been considered fragmented, and paper-based, portraying them as ‘high risk’ to traditional financial institutions, the entrepreneurs say.
That is about to change thanks to their digital ledger app called Kayko.
Kayko will help informal merchants to track cash flows in their businesses and digitally maintain professional bookkeeping records they can present to banks to access funding.
The app also offers convenient tools that solve challenges most small businesses face, including managing stock, understanding their growth and attracting new customers.
Crepin, the Chief Executive Officer and in charge of business development and product design, explains that the app is designed to be user-friendly to merchants with no technical or accounting expertise.
“Since launching in early December 2021, Kayko has already on boarded 100+ small businesses. This was possible mainly due to our presence at the Expo 2021, which RDB sponsored for us to attend,” he says.
Kevin, the Chief Technology Officer and a full stack software engineer in charge of the engineering team and oversees product development, discerns that the SME sector is the backbone of Rwanda’s economy, yet it remains financially underserved due to its informal mode of operation.
Because of this, Kayko is working to ensure merchants can keep records of their sales and expenses and present this information to financial institutions whenever they need loans to restock, pay salaries, buy equipment, or other activities to grow.
For small-sized businesses, Kayko is free to use. With one account, the business owner has essential tools to simplify bookkeeping.
For medium-sized businesses with more than one staff member, they charge 15,000 Rwf monthly for two accounts an additional 7500 Rwf for every new user.
They also have Kayko for enterprises that have more customers and needs. “These clients contact us, and we quote them accordingly.”
The young entrepreneurs say their mother inspired them to join entrepreneurship and start this particular business.
When they were still teenagers, their mother left her desk job to start a small catering business.
“We would help her prepare meals and clean dishes during the holidays to earn some allowance. In the beginning, it was thrilling to have a family business. As time went by, we observed the challenges our mother faced, which resulted from operating without a clear way of telling if she was either making a profit or loss. Being very involved in the business’s day-to-day operations, she didn’t have time to record cash and credit sales correctly and often mixed up business and personal expenses,” they recall.
Banks constantly rejected her whenever she needed financial support because she did not have professional bookkeeping records. Without access to working capital, the catering businesses struggled for a long time and eventually shut down two years later. It was a tough time for our family because our livelihoods depended on the company, the entrepreneurs say.
A few years later, while attending university, the two teamed up to figure out how to solve this problem. They discovered that their mother was not alone in having this problem during their research, and that marked the beginning of their venture.
Their capital platform
After realising that equipping SMEs with a simplified ledger app solves half of the problem, they dug deep and discovered a need for a sustainable remedy that would bridge the gap between merchants seeking loans and banks looking for credible merchants.
They intend to do this with Kayko Capital.
Kayko Capital is an enterprise tool that gives financial institutions access to SMEs in need of business loans and their audit trail.
“Kayko Capital also helps these institutions automate the loan process with the help of an array of accountability tools. We are currently in talks with a commercial bank and a microfinance firm to pilot a service that will enable Kayko merchants to access loans from these institutions using their recorded cash flows,” Kevin reveals.
They also urge more banks and financial institutions to come on board Kayko Capital because their innovation is poised to close one of the most significant market gaps that prevail in the economy.
“With the help of strong partners, there are limitless opportunities to scale this solution and impact the lives and livelihoods of merchants across the continent,” Crepin notes.
Other tools for business success
There are three elements that every business needs to maintain to succeed: people, process and tools, according to Crepin.
The people need to be an effective team of individuals with the right skills, experience, and attitude to deliver business goals. They must have inclinations that make it easy to adopt specific business principles depending on the business. For instance, if a retail store thrives on offering good customer service, a team of empaths is crucial to delivering exceptional customer experiences, he explains.
The process is a series of steps the team takes to identify and prioritise critical actions needed to meet business goals. Examples of processes include product development, service delivery, and bookkeeping. It is very important that the processes are repeatable or replicable to deliver the same outcome regardless of who performs them.
Tools on the other hand are the resources the team uses to implement the process. It also helps automate some parts of the process. Ideally, the latest and fastest technology provides tools that create the most impact.
Many businesses make a common mistake in investing in various tools and then fitting people and processes into them. Tools are ineffective unless supported by the right people who follow the proper processes, he adds.
“Our digital ledger app Kayko is an example of a tool that eases bookkeeping for small enterprises whose owners have limited resources and expertise. I refer to this concept as “the golden triangle.” It gets its name because these three components are vital in ensuring a business is set up for success. In any business, a strategy that optimises the relationship between people, processes, and tools is required to achieve its definition of success.”
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