In South Africa’s chaotic, unforgiving business environment, where the line between thriving and failing is thin for small and medium enterprise (SMEs), the stories of South Africa’s entrepreneurs speak volumes. Recent findings from the SA chapter of the Entrepreneur’s Organisation reveal that access to funding is a persistent, top-of-mind concern for the country’s small business owners.
Though liquidations have decreased substantially in 2023, the year nevertheless saw around 800 businesses forced to close their doors.
Driven by a genuine passion to empower SMEs, strengthen the local business ecosystem, and invigorate the SA economy, Lula has observed the trends and analysed case studies to see what works.
“We want our clients’ businesses to thrive, and, going beyond just business capital, we equip them with a range of financial tools and intelligence to help them do it,” says Tom Stuart, chief marketing officer at Lula.
The company is a leading B2B funding partner that has recently augmented its range of offerings to assist SA’s small businesses and launched an integrated digital banking platform tailored for the everyday needs of SMEs.
Nick Bekker, owner and founder of LRG Solar, is one of the many SA entrepreneurs who feel that cash flow is the single biggest blocker for startups and SMEs in the country, especially in key, fast-growing sectors like construction. LRG’s partnership with a B2B capital provider and financial partner paved the way for his business’s current success, he says.
Bekker believes these services can help businesses “stabilise their supply, and grow their bottom line.” “[It let us] come to market with something unique, new, and exciting,” he says.
Traditional banks – the conventional path to accessing business financing – are not adequately solving SMEs’ cash flow needs. The application process tends to be bogged down by bureaucratic red tape, and requires arduous paperwork and administration “that I as a business owner simply don’t have the time to do,” Bekker notes.
Pursuing the route of a more agile, digital-first business credit partner proved to be far quicker, he says: “[The] online application took all but five minutes, and was approved within 24 hours.”
Echoing these sentiments, Craig Ford – owner and managing director at Express Holdings, an innovative conglomerate business and entrepreneurial group – says he has experienced first-hand how this modern approach to capital financing is easing the operational burden on business owners and entrepreneurs, and letting them focus on what matters: growing their businesses.
Josie van Aswegen is an expert florist and the enthusiastic founder-turned-CEO of Fabulous Flowers. Having nurtured her thriving business from the ground up, she is putting in the work every day to make her dreams come true.
She says access to business funding allowed her to scale, innovate and invest in important expansion drivers such as marketing. “It’s allowed us to grow the business, and employ the people that we do,” she remarks. “For instance, on Valentine’s Day, we must spend a fortune buying stock. Everything goes up in price. But to have that service is great.
“And it just lets you breathe… You do not want to worry about that sort of thing when you are a creative person. You just want to know that someone has your back.”