SA HR startup SmartWage raises $2m seed spherical

South Africa’s SmartWage, an HR and communications expertise startup, has raised US$2 million in an oversubscribed seed funding spherical to assist its imaginative and prescient of remodeling Africa’s workforce by digital inclusion, significantly for frontline staff.

Based in 2019, SmartWage began off by permitting firms to offer their staff with immediate entry to a proportion of their salaries and wages for work they’ve already completed. 

It has since expanded past that, giving enterprises a easy but efficient option to digitise their most time-consuming HR processes, serving to them save money and time with a view to concentrate on individuals. The product offers staff with out e mail the flexibility to obtain company-wide communication, entry their payslips, request depart and get entry to monetary wellness merchandise, all by way of WhatsApp.

It final raised funding again in 2020, and its seed funding got here from traders together with LoftyInc Capital Administration, Creator Collective Capital, and Penrose Capital, together with angels from Naspers, Dimension Information, Investec, and Customary Financial institution. SmartWage plans to deploy the capital to develop its product and expertise crew and double down on fixing employers’ greatest issues.

Co-founder Simon Ellis mentioned there was a communication hole between employers and staff, with frontline staff not feeling a part of an organization’s model and its promise. 

“Payslips and depart are nonetheless completed manually with paper printouts, whereas worker communication is completed utilizing discover boards or apps, which have large utilization drop-offs. Onboarding and disciplinary procedures are nonetheless paper-based, costing companies valuable time, cash and sources,” he mentioned.

SmartWage tackles these challenges, driving efficiencies for employers, whereas the startup has additionally developed a number of monetary wellness merchandise that embody entry to free monetary training and on-demand pay. 

“We’ve learnt by our course of that staff want entry to money greater than ever earlier than. Eighty per cent of South Africans wrestle to make it to the tip of the month with out counting on some type of brief time period debt, and the payday mortgage business is booming,” mentioned Ellis.

“If we will save employers money and time by digitisation, we will bridge the hole between South African enterprises and their frontline staff, serving to enterprises join clearly and dynamically with their staff, while providing monetary wellness instruments on the identical time. By providing instruments that profit each employers and staff, we’ve a robust worth proposition.”

Idris Bello, founding accomplice of LoftyInc Capital Administration, mentioned he was excited by the scalability of the SmartWage product set and the impression it might have, in each Africa and past the continent. 

“The crew at SmartWage are innovators – they’re constructing extra than simply an earned wage entry product, and have recognised that with a view to make a tangible impression on employers, they should construct a robust means for employers to have interaction with their workforce. We’re excited to accomplice with Simon, Caroline and the highly effective crew they’ve assembled to assist SmartWage’s mission to drive digital inclusion throughout Africa,” he mentioned.

SmartWage shoppers embody firms that make use of frontline staff, usually in retail, fast service eating places (QSR), manufacturing, development, and hospitality. It has grown its month-to-month lively consumer base 14x up to now 12 months, and now work with manufacturers reminiscent of Edgars, KFC, Debonairs, Seattle Espresso, Truda and Twizza.


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