A recent visit to a lending conference in London reaffirmed my conviction in the resilience of South African entrepreneurs. Despite depressed macroeconomic conditions, challenges like severe load shedding, infrastructure issues and supply-chain disruptions, South African SMEs demonstrate remarkable tenacity. Their resilience not only fuels my pride but also reinforces my belief in the SME sector as an indispensable catalyst for South Africa’s growth.
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The entrepreneurial spirit in South Africa thrives on innovation, a quality that spurred the government’s recent collaboration with the private sector. President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement in June, involving the commitment of over a hundred CEOs from leading corporate companies, promises to fortify state-owned enterprises and address national issues like energy, corruption and logistics. The successful implementation of these initiatives should positively impact the SME sector, with large corporations depending on SMEs’ agility to bolster capacity and distribution.
However, access to debt and capital remains a significant hurdle for SMEs, especially when it comes to traditional working capital financing. The requirement for collateral as security by traditional lenders often poses a barrier for businesses, particularly for those companies that run on asset-light business models yet produce strong revenue and cash flows.
The industry’s response to these challenges is the rise of unsecured lending from alternative, non-bank funders and fintech credit providers. With no collateral required, these innovators bridge the funding gap, leveraging technology, data and machine learning to expedite the credit assessment and approval processes. Our experience at Genfin shows the immense value of providing innovative, flexible and swift funding decisions, enhancing the overall customer experience, viability and scalability of SMEs.
Future is bright
Considering growth and innovation by SME lenders globally, the future of alternative lending in South Africa is bright, with technology advancements like “open banking” set to revolutionise data access, increase competition and ultimately, achieve the financial inclusion of more SMEs. The ability to share financial and bank information electronically, securely and in a standardised format will furthermore lead to innovations like “predictive lending” and greater financial agility for qualifying businesses.
As we unravel the shortcomings and address inefficiencies in the traditional financial ecosystem, we integrate vital SMEs into the fold, empowering them with the capital to innovate and grow. The ripple effect is economic development, job creation and infrastructural progress that South Africa dearly needs.
About the author, Jaco Erasmus
With a legacy of leadership in corporate and investment banking, Jaco Erasmus joined Genfin to drive innovative funding solutions for South Africa’s SMEs and mid-corporates. His career spans two decades, with formative years in London and a significant tenure as director and head of corporate coverage at an international banking group in South Africa. His insights into value creation, coupled with a belief in the transformative power of SMEs, align with Genfin’s mission to champion economic growth through smart lending.
About Genfin Business Finance
Genfin, established in 2016, is a proudly South African entrepreneurial fintech business that enables and supports SMEs and mid-corporates with flexible business funding solutions. For more, visit www.genfin.co.za.
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