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Vodacom goes into loans business

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Vodacom has launched a new business financing product for small and medium sized businesses, called VodaLend Business Advance. The mobile network operator says “this digital proposition will ensure that SMEs have access to the funding they need to grow”.

“Small and medium-sized businesses are the backbone of South Africa’s economy and contribute significantly to employment in the country as well as the gross domestic product (GDP) which is why ensuring their growth and success is vitally important,” says Vodacom Financial Services Chief Officer, Mariam Cassim. “Providing access to SME funding not only benefits the business owner by allowing them to grow their business but also creates job opportunities and positively impacts the economy as a whole.”

Vodacom points out that access to funding has been identified as a major stumbling block for SMEs, who are often forced to source funding in their personal capacity from friends or family. 

VodaLend Business Advance’s qualifying criteria requires SMEs to be registered and operational for at least 12 months, with an annual revenue of over R500,000 and a good credit standing. The size of the advance varies from R10,000 to R1.5-million and is repayable over 6-12 months. The application process is fully digital, and could take a business owner less than 10 minutes to complete. This means no need for printing out long application forms or taking time out to go into lending institutions with the hope of obtaining a business advance. Once the application is submitted with all the required information, a decision is immediate and, if successful, the money is transferred into the business account within a day.

Over and above the short-term finance, qualifying SMEs will also receive Business Legal Assist, at no further cost, to support the companies in day-to-day business legal questions, for the duration of the advance term.

“Vodacom Financial Services intends to go beyond just providing funding and is looking to be a partner in growth for SMEs,” says Cassim. 

* For more information, visit www.vodacombusiness.co.za/fundmybusiness

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DStv Now adds free education to ‘lockdown channels’

In its response to the COVID-19 lockdown in South Africa, DStv is offering 16 free channels on its streaming app

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Two new channels have been added to a free service being provided on DStv Now, the online version of DStv. 

In response to the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic, DStv owner MultiChoice worked with local and international news channels in mid-March to add 24-hour news coverage to the DStv Now free service.

The company says the intent was to help all South Africans stay up to date with announcements and developments, and the results so far are encouraging. Usage of the service has increased 20% since the lockdown began, and peak usage is up 80% compared to pre-crisis peaks. 

 Now, in another step to help families through the lockdown period, MultiChoice has added additional educational content to the free service with the Mindset PoP channel. This channel features educational programming covering the entire General Education and Training (GET) phase, including Early Childhood Development (ECD), as well as a key focus on the Grade 4 – 9 curriculum. 

The channel aims to prepare children for when schools reopen. Mindset PoP will deliver live lessons daily, with six fresh hours every day. A website is available for parents to download worksheets and information sheets to work through with expert teachers. Lessons are based on the South African Curriculum Assessment Policy Statements (CAPS) and are also aligned to the Cambridge curriculum.

“We’re extremely grateful to all of the channel providers for being so willing to work with us to help all South Africans through this unprecedented lockdown period,” said Niclas Ekdahl, CEO of the Connected Video division of MultiChoice. 

“Thanks to their support we’re able to keep people informed, keep kids’ educations going, and keep people entertained.”

The full list of channels available to non-DStv customers on the DStv Now free service is:

100 – DStv

180 – People’s Weather

238 – SuperSport Play

313 – PBS Kids

317 – Mindset PoP

320 – Channel O

343 – TBN

400 – BBC World News

401 – CNN

402 – Sky News

403 – eNCA

404 – SABC News

405 – Newzroom Afrika

405 – AlJazeera

414 – Euronews Now

417 – africanews

To sign up for the DStv Now free service, go to http://now.dstv.com 

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FNB Connect cuts data price by 55%, offers 1GB free

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FNB Connect has reduce its data prices by up to 55%. It is also doubling customers’ data on Lifestyle plans without any price increase.

This weekend, FNB Connect will also give all its customers 1GB of free data during the national lockdown, with a validity period of 30 days. This lockdown data allocation is in addition to the Free Connect allocations that customers with qualifying transactional accounts receive monthly.

“This will enable our customers to save on telco spend, which is a regular feature in household budgets,” says Raj Makanjee, CEO of FNB Retail. “Access to affordable and free data goes a long way in assisting our customers navigate difficult times and is also aligned to our ethos of offering real help when it’s needed the most.”

Shadrack Palmer, FNB Connect product head, says: “In our efforts to provide our customers with more value for their money, we’ve reduced our mobile data prices and doubled the data bundles on most of our Lifestyle plans, to give our customers more reason to connect anywhere and anytime. This is needed now more than even, as South Africans are observing the 21-day national lockdown, with many strapped for cash during these challenging times.”

The new data prices and doubling of the Lifestyle plans are to be repriced as follows:

“Since the launch of our Free Connect offering in July 2019, we’ve tried to remain consistent to see how best we can incentivise our customers when they need it most,” says Palmer.  “As FNB Connect, we understand the pressures customers are facing financially and are committed to providing better value at every opportunity.”

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