Appy days for SA SMEs

Fundaba is an app-based entrepreneurship learning programme. Image supplied by FNB

FNB launches app-based entrepreneurship education programme and fee-free business account

In what it describes as a response to the barriers faced by micro, small and medium-sized businesses in South Africa, FNB has launched Fundaba, a digital app-based entrepreneurship learning programme and First Business Zero,

a digital no monthly account fee business bank account.

Fundaba is free interactive e-learning business education platform that has been developed inside the FNB banking app. Jesse Weinberg, head of the SME Customer Segment at FNB, described it a “first-of-its-kind offering in South Africa”. It comprises multimedia content such as videos, podcasts, quizzes, templates and tools for all FNB customers to learn about entrepreneurship and running a business.

He said the Bank had conducted extensive research and worked with hundreds of local business owners and mentors to provide users with critical knowledge and practical help to assist them as they navigate the business journey; from incubating a business idea, to starting, running and growing a business in South Africa.

The app also allows SMEs to actively share and provide feedback on various educational chapters to constantly increase the effectiveness and relevance of the content.

The name Fundaba is a combination of the South African words “Fundi” (colloquially means “expert”) and “Indaba” (discussion).

“As a leading business bank in South Africa, a core part of our strategy is to help develop SMEs by supporting entrepreneurs through their journey, and a key part of this journey is entrepreneurship knowledge and skills which we believe can help on a large-scale using our digital infrastructure,” said Weinberg.

The Fundaba educational programme consists of 12 modules across four lifecycle stages of a business (incubate, start, run and grow) and follows a South African entrepreneur’s journey as he builds his first business – ‘Lebo’s Bakery’. All audio and video content isavailable in five local languages including, IsiZulu, isiXhosa, Sesotho, English and Afrikaans.

“Through our research and first-hand engagements with SMEs, we discovered that there is a knowledge gap amongst many existing and aspiring entrepreneurs when it comes to starting, running and growing a business. We feel we have a role to play to help close this gap, and at the same time help catalyse a country-wide dialogue of increasing entrepreneurship skills and knowledge sharing,” Weinberg said.

Zero monthly fees

First Business Zero card
First Business Zero, is a digital no monthly account fee business bank account. Image supplied by FNB

The second innovation launched by the bank is First Business Zero, a digital on-platform business bank account offered by FNB from 1 November 2019. The offering is designed specifically for sole proprietor businesses with an annual turnover up to R5 million and can be opened on the FNB App within a few minutes using the bank’s “Selfie” process to identity and verify the user.

According to Mike Vacy-Lyle, FNB Business CEO, key features of the First Business Zero proposition include no monthly account fee, unlimited free POS card swipes, inter-operable QR code for accepting payments, linked saving pocket to ring-fence savings and earn interest, and an FNB Connect SIM card that includes free data, minutes and SMSs (up to 100mb data, 30 voice minutes, 30 SMSs).

Businesses will also get free access to FNB Business’ suite of free value-added services, including Instant Accounting software, Invoicing, Cash Flow and Payroll.

“FNB has invested billions of Rands in developing a business banking platform that offers holistic and integrated financial solutions to all types of businesses,” said Vacy-Lyle.

“To maintain our market leading position, it is essential that our business model continually evolves to provide relevant solutions for customers, from learning how to start, run and grow a business, to registering a company, opening a bank account, applying for credit and managing the businesses daily affairs.”

He added that during the past financial year to June 2019, FNB Business banked SME lending reached more than R40 billion on the back of simple, scored, digital lending, with a credit approval taking less than three minutes in many instances. The bank further extended over R8 billion to women-led businesses during the same period.

“Better use of data, understanding client context, easier credit applications through scoring and digitisation, as well as lower origination costs, have led to better, deeper credit underwriting and quicker turnaround times. This has made borrowing from FNB Business a much better experience with better pricing,” said Vacy-Lyle.

“Continued digitisation of the commercial banking experience, at scale, has resulted in improved efficiencies and a lower cost of banking. This benefit of scale will be passed on to the customer through more affordable banking solutions like these.” –