Intelligent SME.tech Issue 20 - Page 55

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// REGIONAL ROUND-UP // AFRICA | APAC | EUROPE | MIDDLE EAST | NORTH AMERICA AFRICA

START-UP TO BRIDGE GAP BETWEEN SOUTH AFRICAN ENTERPRISES AND FRONTLINE EMPLOYEES

SmartWage , an innovative HR and communications technology start-up , has raised US $ 2 million . The oversubscribed seed funding round was raised to support SmartWage ’ s vision of transforming Africa ’ s workforce through digital inclusion , particularly for frontline employees like cashiers , restaurant staff , security personnel and healthcare workers .

SmartWage is giving enterprises a simple yet effective way to digitise their most time-consuming HR processes , helping them save time and money to focus on what matters most : People . The product gives employees without email the ability to receive company-wide communication , access their payslips , request leave and get access to financial wellness products , all via WhatsApp .
The majority ( 90 %) of frontline employees don ’ t have or don ’ t use email , while 97 % of formallyemployed people in South Africa use WhatsApp .
In a country where most people have less than five apps on their phone , engagement is best when using an existing distribution channel like WhatsApp to reach employees . No solution , however , adequately addresses the challenge of communicating with a distributed workforce , leaving employers unable to digitally transform .
“ There is a communication gap . Frontline employees don ’ t feel part of a company ’ s brand and its promise ,” said Simon Ellis , CEO , SmartWage . “ Payslips and leave are still done manually with paper printouts , while employee communication is done using notice boards or apps , which have huge usage drop-offs . Onboarding and disciplinary procedures are still paper-based , costing businesses precious time , money and resources ”.
But it ’ s not only about driving efficiencies for employers . SmartWage has developed a host of financial wellness products that give employees the financial lifeline they need . These include access to free financial education and on-demand pay .
“ We have learnt through our process that employees need access to cash more than ever before . A total of 80 % of South Africans struggle to make it to the end of the month without relying on some form of short term debt , and the payday loan industry is booming ,” added Ellis . “ If we can save employers time and money through digitisation , we can bridge the gap between South African enterprises and their frontline employees , helping enterprises connect clearly and dynamically with their employees while offering financial wellness tools at the same time . By offering tools that benefit both employers and employees , we have a powerful value proposition .” �
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