Many South Africans want to start a business and need to raise finance but are unsure of what funding options are available and what is needed to qualify them. DARLENE MENZIES, CEO of Finfind, offers some suggestions.
Access to business finance is a major challenge for entrepreneurs. The high rate of rejected loans applications and the lack of knowledge about the available offerings are just two of many issues they face.
When it comes to applying for finance, a common mistake entrepreneurs make is where to start. Instead of doing some basic research about the various lenders and finance products available, they usually head for the lenders they know of, typically the commercial banks and government grants. In reality, the banks and government provide less than 10% of the total finance needs in the start-up and small business sector. While these lenders may land up being the right fit for you, if you want to avoid wasting valuable time and money running around applying for finance options you don’t qualify for then it’s important to start with a little research.
As Abraham Lincoln said, if you give me six hours to chop down a tree I’d spend four hours sharpening the axe. It is important to do some prep, to ask yourself some key questions and to arm yourself with the relevant information. Here are some tips on what to ask yourself and where to easily find the answers to help you secure a lender for your specific needs.
Be clear about what you need finance for in order to determine which lenders you should be approaching. Just as there are different reasons for raising finance, there are equally many different types of lenders and different types of finance products to match these needs. There are specific products to finance the buying of equipment and machinery, for working capital, for completing a contract, expanding your business, buying a building for your business, to buy out a partner, to buy a franchise, for exporting or importing, for a business emergency among others.
Data shows that the most common reason why entrepreneurs want to access finance is to start a business. The top three reasons why existing businesses apply for raising finance are to purchase equipment, to expand their businesses and for working capital. The good news is that there are more than 50 funds in South Africa for start-up finance and more than 70 funds available to fund the purchase of equipment.
Once you are clear about what you need finance for, you can familiarise yourself with the different types of finance products available. Some of the types of finance include Asset Finance, Bootstrapping, Contract Finance, Customer Deposits, Equity, Export Finance, Import Finance, Invoice Discounting and Factoring, Mortgage Loans, Overdrafts, Property Finance, Supplier Finance and Term Loans. Decide which products fit your need and then research all you are able to, find out which lenders offer them and what you need to qualify for them.
When it comes to start-up funding, surprisingly, or maybe not so to anyone who has tried to access finance, more than 60% of all capital raised comes from the entrepreneur’s own savings or from loans from friends and family. If you are looking for money to start a business or money to grow your existing business, don’t discount the people you already know, your own network. If your idea or your business is worth backing the easiest place to raise finance is usually from people who already know you – they know how capable, hardworking and trustworthy you are.
There are a number of different types of lenders who provide finance to entrepreneurs, these include angels, venture capitalists (VCs), banks, debt financiers, niche lenders, Corporate Enterprise Development (ED), suppliers, personal lenders and government among others. Read up about each of them and find out who they typically fund, what products they offer and what their lending criteria is to help you decide who you should be approaching.
Who can help me answer these questions?
Thankfully for entrepreneurs, there is an easy-to-use website that provides the answers to your questions and best of all, it’s free. This revolutionary one-stop solution for access to finance for entrepreneurs is called Finfind.
Besides providing practical tips and information on finance, Finfind’s primary service is to auto match you with all the lenders and finance options in the country that meet your specific finance needs. You are simply required to answer some questions about you as the owner and about your business and Finfind does the matching and links you with the appropriate lenders.
Finfind has a large database of the all the lenders and finance products in South Africa that is kept up to date on a daily basis. Finfind is backed by the Department of Small Business Development.
Since its launch by the Minister of Small Business Development at the end of 2015, Finfind has facilitated over 35 000 small business loan leads.
Bring your network with you
At last week’s Critical Communications World, Motorola unveiled the LXN 500 LTE Ultra Portable Network Infrastructure. It allows rescue personal to set up dedicated LTE networks for communication in an emergency, writes SEAN BACHER.
In the event of an emergency, communications are absolutely critical, but the availability of public phone networks are limited due to weather conditions or congestion.
Motorola realised that this caused a problem when trying to get rescue personnel to those in need and so developed its LXN 500 LTE Ultra Portable Network Infrastructure. The product is the smallest and lightest full powered broadband network to date and allows the first person on the scene to set up an LTE network in a matter of minutes, allowing other rescue team members to communicate with each other.
“The LXN 500 weighs six kilograms and comes in a backpack with two batteries. It offers a range of 1km and allows up to 100 connections at the same time. However, in many situations the disaster area may span more than 1km which is why they can be connected to each other in a mesh formation,” says Tunde Williams, Head of Field and Solutions Marketing EMEA, Motorola Solutions.
The LXN 500 solution offers communication through two-way radios, and includes mapping, messaging, push-to-talk, video and imaging features onboard, thus eliminating the need for any additional hardware.
Data collected on the device can then be sent through to a central control room where an operator can deploy additional rescue personnel where needed. Once video is streamed into the control room, realtime analytics and augmented reality can be applied to it to help predict where future problem points may arise. Video images and other multimedia can also be made available for rescuers on the ground.
“Although the LXN 500 was designed for the seamless communications between on ground rescue teams and their respective control rooms, it has made its way into the police force and in places where there is little or no cellular signal such as oil rigs,” says Williams.
He gave a hostage scenario: “In the event of a hostage situation, it is important for the police to relay information in realtime to ensure no one is hurt. However the perpetrators often use their mobile phones to try and foil any rescue attempts. Should the police have the correct partnerships in place they are able to disable cellular towers in the vicinity, preventing any in or outgoing calls on a public network and allowing the police get their job done quickly and more effectively.”
By disabling any public networks in the area, police are also able to eliminate any cellular detonated bombs from going off but still stay in touch with each other he says.
The LXN 500 offers a wide range of mission critical cases and is sure to transform communications and improve safety for first responders and the people they are trying to protect.
Kaspersky moves to Switzerland
As part of its Global Transparency Initiative, Kaspersky Lab is adapting its infrastructure to move a number of core processes from Russia to Switzerland.
This includes customer data storage and processing for most regions, as well as software assembly, including threat detection updates. To ensure full transparency and integrity, Kaspersky Lab is arranging for this activity to be supervised by an independent third party, also based in Switzerland.
Global transparency and collaboration for an ultra-connected world
The Global Transparency Initiative, announced in October 2017, reflects Kaspersky Lab’s ongoing commitment to assuring the integrity and trustworthiness of its products. The new measures are the next steps in the development of the initiative, but they also reflect the company’s commitment to working with others to address the growing challenges of industry fragmentation and a breakdown of trust. Trust is essential in cybersecurity, and Kaspersky Lab understands that trust is not a given; it must be repeatedly earned through transparency and accountability.
The new measures comprise the move of data storage and processing for a number of regions, the relocation of software assembly and the opening of the first Transparency Center.
Relocation of customer data storage and processing
By the end of 2019, Kaspersky Lab will have established a data center in Zurich and in this facility, will store and process all information for users in Europe, North America, Singapore, Australia, Japan and South Korea, with more countries to follow. This information is shared voluntarily by users with the Kaspersky Security Network (KSN) an advanced, cloud-based system that automatically processes cyberthreat-related data.
Relocation of software assembly
Kaspersky Lab will relocate to Zurich its ‘software build conveyer’ — a set of programming tools used to assemble ready to use software out of source code. Before the end of 2018, Kaspersky Lab products and threat detection rule databases (AV databases) will start to be assembled and signed with a digital signature in Switzerland, before being distributed to the endpoints of customers worldwide. The relocation will ensure that all newly assembled software can be verified by an independent organisation and show that software builds and updates received by customers match the source code provided for audit.
Establishment of the first Transparency Center
The source code of Kaspersky Lab products and software updates will be available for review by responsible stakeholders in a dedicated Transparency Center that will also be hosted in Switzerland and is expected to open this year. This approach will further show that generation after generation of Kaspersky Lab products were built and used for one purpose only: protecting the company’s customers from cyberthreats.
Independent supervision and review
Kaspersky Lab is arranging for the data storage and processing, software assembly, and source code to be independently supervised by a third party qualified to conduct technical software reviews. Since transparency and trust are becoming universal requirements across the cybersecurity industry, Kaspersky Lab supports the creation of a new, non-profit organisation to take on this responsibility, not just for the company, but for other partners and members who wish to join.