Digitizing Africa’s SMEs
Africa needs better financial infrastructure — we are a decade behind the United States. In Nigeria, over 61% of the adult population are unbanked, and arguably everyone is underbanked. Ninety-six percent of businesses are SMEs and the vast majority are operating in an offline world. Most of these businesses struggle to sell efficiently. They do not have systems to track inventory and primarily trade with cash. Those who sell online, on social media, or their website, also face trust issues with customers who have to pay ahead with little to no recourse and poor delivery logistics. Above all, cash remains the primary method of payment for most people.
The Paga Group is solving payments and access to finance in Africa for consumers and SMEs. We are building Square Inc / PayPal for Africa — a payments and financial services ecosystem for the continent.
We started in Nigeria by tackling the consumer problem — making it simple for consumers to access and use money in the most convenient way for them. The first segment we tackled were consumers — most of whom are not digitally enabled (according to Statista, smartphone penetration is 12% in Nigeria). We have over 18.6m users regularly using our over 60K+ agent points (similar to a 7-Eleven) or our mobile app and USSD (*242# on any phone without data).
Over the years, we have built deep payments infrastructure to all payment rails in Nigeria, and we’ve opened up these rails as a platform-as-a-service to the tech ecosystem. We are now leveraging these payment rails and APIs to solve the problems of payments and access to finance for SMEs.
Last week we announced the launch of our seller ecosystem - Doroki.
Doroki is focused squarely on digitizing SMEs across Africa. We have spent a lot of time with our target customers in Nigeria to understand their needs and design solutions that solve their fundamental problems. We partnered with Visa in this process, and together we are announcing a suite of tools called Business, Connect, and Grow. With Doroki, sellers can digitize critical aspects of their business — payment collection, sales management, reconciliation, inventory management, and soon also accessing loans.
With Doroki, sellers can collect payments from customers via cards, bank transfers, QR codes, Sound (first in Africa to roll this out — more on this in another post), and USSD. On the payments front, we meet consumers where they are — pay however you wish to pay. Card payments use a Paga mPOS device.
Doroki is a platform that makes it easier to pay and get paid, shop, and sell. The launch of Doroki is significant for us at Paga Group because it marks the formal launch of the next phase of our two-sided ecosystem — this one for the millions of people who sell goods and services.
We already have over 5,000 merchants using the pilot version of the app, and their feedback has been invaluable in getting it ready for a more significant scale launch and deployment. Here is what one of our current merchants, Vestar Coffee has to say about their experience with the app:
I’m super excited about Doroki and the impact we will have serving small businesses. The launch event was brilliant, and it was great to see our partner, Visa, there in full force.
Our Ecosystem — Paga (consumer brand) and Doroki (seller brand)
So, if you know anyone who sells anything, whether in a store, online, or offers a service, encourage them to use Doroki to digitize their business. I encourage you to download the app now and begin using it to buy, sell, pay, and get paid. All feedback is welcome.
Below are some photos from the launch event.