> RETAIL CAPITAL

TURNING A DIGITAL FOOTPRINT INTO A FUNDING LIFELINE

Retail Capital was born in 2011 as an idea on a white napkin. Those drawings became the framework of what ended up being the first Merchant Cash Advance (MCA) product for businesses in South Africa. Driven by a deep passion to support the SME sector, Retail Capital has since innovated by introducing world-class fintech and entered into strategic partnerships to fulfil its purpose: to provide partnerships and funding for the SME sector in South Africa that’s quick, convenient, and flexible. This sector has largely been neglected by the government and traditional banks, and Retail Capital stepped up to provide flexible funding.

Over the past decade, the funder has disbursed more than R4-billion to over 40,000 unique small businesses across a variety of sectors, with R1-billion of that being disbursed during the Covid-19 pandemic. While Retail Capital faced the same challenges as their clients during the recent economic downturn, the group expects to double the growth rate over the next few years as its expansion strategy – supported by technology – unfolds.

Fintech’s ability to drive financial inclusion is well-documented, and Retail Capital has leveraged this position to reach exponentially more SMEs than a traditional face-to-face financier would be able to service. Reaching as many SMEs as possible is core to the business’s strong belief that South Africa’s recovery and prosperity is intricately tied to the wellbeing of the country’s SME sector.

Retail Capital has understood from the outset that the biggest challenge many SMEs face is the access to working capital, which can either hold a business down or worse, lead to its closure. Digitisation and technology are powerful instruments of growth in any business’s toolkit. The success lies in assessing the business in a matter of minutes and then supporting the business owner’s vision by giving them access to capital within hours.

Accessing SMEs at a point where Retail Capital can assess them and provide real-time funding is core to its strategy, whether this is through a card acquirer, a wholesale provider, or a medical switching platform – the fintech allows Retail Capital to be present funding offers where there is data.

This capability has enabled the group to provide funding for businesses with turnover for as little as three (3) months and provide innovative payment options linked to the actual cash flow performance of the business – yet another differentiator from the onerous conditions meted out by banks. If the turnover is down, the payment reduces – which was integral to the business’s success and customer loyalty during the Covid-19 lockdowns.

Retail Capital is the South African leader in providing embedded finance on the back of a digital transaction history. The key benefit to this type of funding is that it’s not limited to large, urban, and formal businesses. Retail Capital can provide funding across the board – if an enterprise has a transactional footprint, it can be funded. With more and more informal and township businesses taking on fintech-enabled payment rails, Retail Capital is poised to reach even more SMEs and help them unlock their potential.

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