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Brewing giant gives blockchain to African farmers

AB InBev Africa and BanQu are empowering farmers through a non-cryptocurrency application of blockchain technology.

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Zambian Cassava famers in the AB InBev value chain are able to keep a record of their produce sales and receive cash through the Blockchain mobile money solution

AB InBev Africa and BanQu have roped in blockchain technology to uplift smallholder farmers in the global brewing giant’s supply chain. The companies say they are expanding financial inclusion and empowering more people across the continent, while also giving AB InBev better line of sight of its supply chain, helping it intervene to make sure that farmers also have the resources they need.

It has rolled out a blockchain solution developed by US-based fintech company BanQu, which has developed a non-cryptocurrency blockchain platform designed to provide an economic identity for people around the world. It is geared especially to those working at the tail end of supply chains and who are economically disconnected. This technology enables farmers in the AB InBev value chain to have line of sight of their barley, sorghum, and cassava sales, and receive cash through a mobile money solution.

Initially launched through a pilot project in Zambia in August 2018, a second implementation was unveiled earlier this year in Uganda, through Nile Breweries Limited. Since then, 1200 farmers have signed up on the BanQu blockchain platform. The farmers have access to full accounting information, such as sales price, volume sold, and payment information, made available via SMS. They also have records that they can take to the bank, allowing them access to credit and form a verifiable economic identity.

This possibility is realised through an immutable digital record of their financial transactions, through BanQu’s Dignity Through Identity solution.

Another benefit to AB InBev’s smallholder farmers, which has recently been made available by BanQu, is the integration of mobile money, which means that farmers do not have to walk around with cash that could be stolen. Instead, they can store money, pay bills or send remittances online directly through the free, secure platform.

“Most people have a rudimentary understanding of blockchain because it is the platform that enables Bitcoin transactions,” says AB InBev’s Solutions Africa director of innovation and analytics, Sameer Jooma. He says that BanQu’s solution can be applied to almost any industry.

Says BanQu co-founder and CEO Ashish Gadnis, “BanQu connects people to global supply chains, enabling them to do business with brands, organisations, and governments. Almost 2.7 billion people across the globe don’t have access to credit or other banking services, because they don’t have what we call an economic identity – the data record of their financial position. BanQu seeks to solve this dilemma by providing auditable financial records, which are bankable, allowing more people to participate in the global economy.”

The partnership also gives AB InBev Africa better visibility of farmers in their supply chain, and the Group can easily see how much, and when, a farmer was paid, as well as track produce from the farm to the brewery through geo-location tags.

Now that the farmer is connected, AB InBev Africa can also connect with farmers to ensure that they receive training and resources.

Successive roll outs in Uganda, India, and Brazil have since taken place, making Brazil the fourth market where BanQu will assist AB InBev in reaching the global brewer’s 2025 sustainability goals.

Jooma says: “Over the last year, through BanQu implementations, we have touched more than 4000 farmers in our supply chain in four markets across the world. Through this work, we are helping to create an economic identity for our famers, which enables them to access financial services. This will ultimately allow farmers to grow their business and improve the livelihoods of their families and communities.”

AB InBev has also invested in BanQu, advancing an undisclosed amount to ZX Ventures, the company’s global growth and innovation group, in June this year.

“Our investment in BanQu is an investment in our future through empowering our farmers,” says Jooma.

lockchain platform designed to provide an economic identity for people around the world. It is geared especially to those working at the tail end of supply chains and who are economically disconnected. This technology enables farmers in the AB InBev value chain to have line of sight of their barley, sorghum, and cassava sales, and receive cash through a mobile money solution.

Initially launched through a pilot project in Zambia in August 2018, a second implementation was unveiled earlier this year in Uganda, through Nile Breweries Limited. Since then, 1200 farmers have signed up on the BanQu blockchain platform. The farmers have access to full accounting information, such as sales price, volume sold, and payment information, made available via SMS. They also have records that they can take to the bank, allowing them access to credit and form a verifiable economic identity.

This possibility is realised through an immutable digital record of their financial transactions, through BanQu’s Dignity Through Identity solution.

Another benefit to AB InBev’s smallholder farmers, which has recently been made available by BanQu, is the integration of mobile money, which means that farmers do not have to walk around with cash that could be stolen. Instead, they can store money, pay bills or send remittances online directly through the free, secure platform.

“Most people have a rudimentary understanding of blockchain because it is the platform that enables Bitcoin transactions,” says AB InBev’s Solutions Africa director of innovation and analytics, Sameer Jooma. He says that BanQu’s solution can be applied to almost any industry.

Says BanQu co-founder and CEO Ashish Gadnis, “BanQu connects people to global supply chains, enabling them to do business with brands, organisations, and governments. Almost 2.7 billion people across the globe don’t have access to credit or other banking services, because they don’t have what we call an economic identity – the data record of their financial position. BanQu seeks to solve this dilemma by providing auditable financial records, which are bankable, allowing more people to participate in the global economy.”

The partnership also gives AB InBev Africa better visibility of farmers in their supply chain, and the Group can easily see how much, and when, a farmer was paid, as well as track produce from the farm to the brewery through geo-location tags.

Now that the farmer is connected, AB InBev Africa can also connect with farmers to ensure that they receive training and resources.

Successive roll-outs in Uganda, India, and Brazil have since taken place, making Brazil the fourth market where BanQu will assist AB InBev in reaching the global brewer’s 2025 sustainability goals.

Jooma says: “Over the last year, through BanQu implementations, we have touched more than 4000 farmers in our supply chain in four markets across the world. Through this work, we are helping to create an economic identity for our farmers, which enables them to access financial services. This will ultimately allow farmers to grow their business and improve the livelihoods of their families and communities.”

AB InBev has also invested in BanQu, advancing an undisclosed amount to ZX Ventures, the company’s global growth and innovation group, in June this year.

“Our investment in BanQu is an investment in our future through empowering our farmers,” says Jooma.

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Meet the accountant of the future

The accountant of the future will need a new set of skills, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK, as he meets both the local users and the global creators of Xero accounting software

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Buchule and Sivenathi Sibaca get a highrise view of London. Pic by Arthur Goldstuck

Meet Buchule and Sivenathi Sibaca. They are not only partners in marriage, but also in a thriving accounting business. Buchule and Sivenathi are, respectively, chief executive officer and chief financial officer of SMTAX, which focuses on tax and accounting services for small businesses in the Western Cape, but includes the likes of Absa and Old Mutual among its clients. It employs 18 people and has 4,500 individual and business customers.

That’s not what makes the outfit remarkable. The startling feature of this business is that it has been structured to be a model accounting firm of the next decade. Even more remarkable is the fact that the couple both hail from rural areas where thoughts of the future tend to be about survival rather than blazing new trails.

Last week, they made their first trip out of the country, to attend Xerocon London 2019. This 2-day conference, hosted by the world’s fastest growing accounting software maker, Xero, attracted more than 3,000 delegates from the United Kingdom, Europe Middle East and Africa. A total of 57 Xero partners and users, mostly from accounting practices or suppliers to accountants, made the trek from South Africa.

“It was really about seeing how other accountants on other continents operate in terms of how they think and where their headspace is at,” Buchule told us during Xerocon. “Also, being our first time out of the country, it was to see the culture of other small businesses outside of South Africa. 

“London’s quite different in that regard, but it’s been a really a great learning curve, and we were pleasantly surprised to find elements that look like South Africa, where we can say, at least you’re doing something right. The banking environment is quite unique, as it’s been a really good learning curve in terms of where banking might go to in the future of South Africa if they follow the same trend.”

Buchule comes from the “dusty streets” of Uitenhage in the Eastern Cape, while Sivenathi grew up on a farm in a deep rural area near Mthatha.

“I had no idea about technology or the rest of the world or how it could impact the economy in general,” she said. The two met at the University of Cape Town, where she was studying to be an actuary, and he completed a Masters degree in tax. She decided to put actuarial science behind her, however, when the opportunity arose to join Buchule’s business. But her skills helped transform the business.

Said Buchule: “When Sivenathi came on board we did the modeling of the business, and we said that in order to in order to automate the whole bookkeeping journey, we would need to turn closer and closer towards ‘x’, meaning fully automated bookkeeping. We looked at the journey of how long it will it take for us to get to time ‘x’. And then we said, OK, once we get there, what then?

“It was a big realization that when we do get to time ‘x’, the most important thing will be the human touch. That will be the differentiator. So we then spent our time developing that.”

Visit the next page to read more about the Xerocon 2019 event.

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Takealot reveals startling numbers for Black Friday

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Takealot has revealed startling numbers for expected bumper sales this holiday season, beginning next week, and peaking with Black Friday.

South Africa’s leading ecommerce group expects to ship at least one order every second, with roughly 10,000 boxes leaving their warehouses every hour, this shopping season. 

Black Friday was first introduced to South Africa by Takealot in 2012, and has since become an important day in South Africa’s annual retail calendar. It has been a record-breaker for both retailers in the Takealot Group: Takealot and Superbalist. Takealot’s Black Friday gross merchandise value (GMV) grew 125% from 2017 to 2018, with orders up 127%. Superbalist’s Black Friday GMV has grown on average around 50%. This year, CEO Kim Reid is anticipating the biggest Black Friday yet, a culmination of months of tech and operational business-wide focus to prepare for increased predicted traffic and shopper volumes.

ABSA bank estimates that two out of three South Africans participated in Black Friday sales in 2018. And FNB reports in 2018, Black Friday transaction volumes grew by 16% compared with 2017 and anticipates a 15% increase in transactions over the sales period in 2019. 

Successfully meeting this massive growth in orders has been a key focus for the Takealot Group. CEO Kim Reid says throughout the year they have been working to scale operations across multiple areas within the business. “After expanding our Johannesburg distribution centre (DC), our warehouse storage space now stands at 75 000m2. We house over 3.7 million items at any given time, and have opened 47 Takealot Pickup Points in the Eastern Cape, Western Cape, Gauteng, Kwa-Zulu Natal, Limpopo, Free State and Mpumalanga for order collections and returns, with more to open in the coming months.” 

Takealot Delivery Team delivers to more South African homes than any other courier company in the country. On a monthly basis, they carry out over 1.6-million deliveries,  with this number expected to increase to over 2-million during the shopping season. More than 4,500 drivers currently deliver for the Takealot Delivery Team; a number that is growing every month. The Takealot group anticipates they’ll travel over 4,000 000km from Black Friday until 24 December. “To put that in context, it is the equivalent of circumnavigating the globe over 100 times” says Reid.

Takealot.com’s Blue Dot Sale is a five day sale period which starts on Black Friday (29 November) and sees a range of new deals throughout the weekend as well as on Cyber Monday (2 December) and Takealot Tuesday (3 December), with up to 60% off thousands of items. For the first time, takealot.com will also be giving their shoppers early access to some of its Black Friday deals, starting on 24 November. Fresh new app-only deals will be added daily. 

The Superbalist Showdown will run from 29 November to 3 December, with up to 70% off more than 15 000+ items. Superbalist shoppers will also have early access to Black Friday deals on selected days throughout November, with Superbalist’s Black Friday Spoilers – 24 hours to shop deals that they say won’t be beaten on Black Friday. 

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