RMB Solutionist Thinking is a podcast series hosted by Bruce Whitfield which focusses on great South African minds thinking differently and going against the norm. In this episode in the second series, Whitfield interviews the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Yoco, Katlego Maphai.
If there's a business that knows all about the long, gruelling hours that goes into shaping and moulding a small business into a profitable, income-generator, it's Yoco – a South African fintech startup that has positioned itself as a driving force behind starting the difficult process of wealth development within communities.
As it appears, it was written in the stars that Katlego Maphai, an ICT consultant and four friends, would come out of the cell phone industry to solve, what was essentially, a financial services problem for South African small businesses.
We sped things up and we were able to get that on-boarding process down to minutes. You know, you sign up online, We do all the verification digitally in the background in a low-cost way and we ship you the reader within 48 hours.— Katlego Maphai, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer – Yoco
The lightbulb moment? An old childhood friend treated Katlego to lunch in a "hole in the wall" eatery in San Francisco, which appeared to have no cash register at all. It was the type of place that gave him the impression that it was a cash-only place struggling to get by, more than anything else.
But, when the server pulled out an old android device and stuck in a white little dongle that could swipe credit cards, the whole experience seeded an idea that gave birth to an idea that would crack a problem in payments for small businesses.
My perception of her as a merchant had completely changed because she had digitised. So, I had seen the technology but it was only at that moment that I fully understood her impact on small business.— Katlego Maphai, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer – Yoco
Determined to address the pain points that small businesses face when trying to get a card machine, Yoco realised that the problem they were attempting to solve, was more of an access problem than a technology problem or cost problem. Through this realisation, the startup set out to digitise small, fragmented small businesses and help them get access higher spending customers, higher quality customers.
In the four years following its launch, the resilient point-of-sale payment provider has employed over 100 people, signed up close to 40,000 merchants and, has raised over R248 million from local and foreign investors to help small business in South Africa.
Its belief that small business is fundamental to the country's employment is the driving force behind Yoco's role in ensuring that wealth starts to develop within communities.
The smallest investment into the small businesses has a multiplying effect.— Katlego Maphai, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer – Yoco