Africa Finance Hub founder helps start-ups set up structures, enjoy stability
Toyin Aralepo, a strategic finance expert, is helping entrepreneurs set up structures and experience financial stability.
Through her Finance and Strategy Hub (AFSH), she plans to solve foundational problems hurting the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), including poor management skills, lack of finance, poor preparation, poor knowledge of the sector, poor accounting and book-keeping, among others.
Aralepo, a first-class accounting graduate and fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountant of Nigeria (ICAN), is bringing her over a decade corporate experience in financial management to bear to support the growth of entrepreneurs.
Explaining how she came about the idea of the finance hub, she recalls that she was motivated by a drive to solve some of the challenges preventing MSMEs from properly managing their businesses and moving to the next level.
“Beyond passion, I see this as a call to support businesses and, especially SMEs, to access and enjoy the same value of a multinational CFO. This led to setting Africa Finance and Strategy hub as a support platform for SMEs,” she says.
The platform gives entrepreneurs access to professional financial management skills and tools that can assist them to understand, manage and scale their businesses.
It also helps them to make smart financial decisions to grow profit and attract investors for funding and expansion, she assures.
“Business owners struggling with the performance of their businesses will be able to build sustainable financial structures for profitable growth,” she explains.
The London School of Business (LSB) alumni observes that one major area where SMEs struggle is financial intelligence, which deals with understanding the numbers and the implication of the various financial decisions taken in business operations.
“No matter how intelligent a business idea is, it will not soar beneath its wings without having the right amount of money. Cash is the lifeblood of any business and business would not function unless there’s adequate money accessible for use,” she notes.
The financial expert advises entrepreneurs to understand that management entails planning, organising, controlling and monitoring the financial resources of the business to achieve the set objectives.
She says based on several studies, finance is an area of pain and frustration for several entrepreneurs, leading them to lose grip of their businesses.
“We can compare the role of finance in business to maintenance of a vehicle. If you don’t put in quality fuel and oil and do regular servicing, the functionality of your vehicle will be affected and not serve you well. If neglected, the vehicle will eventually breakdown and fail to reach its intended destination,” she says.
Explaining how her hub intends to solve these identified problems, the entrepreneur says her team has started a business clinic to help business owners to understand areas where they are making losses in their businesses without knowing and proffer how to fix them in a practical manner. “Our operations include face-to-face business consultation as well as virtual learning via @toyinaralepo and @africafinancestrategyhub. We evaluate the state of a business and give support in understanding their business models and how systems are set up to strengthen and run the business models smoothly.”
Once these pains and gaps are identified, she recommends the financial structure to be put in place. This often includes book-keeping and accounting, planning and budgeting, pricing, cash flow management, performance management and development of financial intelligence that will ensure maximum values from products and services. Highlighting her target market and the rationale behind the choice of that market, she discloses that the hub targets business owners who are generating over 600,000 monthly and fall within the global definition of SMEs by the Central Bank of Nigeria and Bank of Industry. They are at their infancy and they need to get it right.
On where she sees her brand in the next 3-5years, she projects that AFSH is envisioned to be one of the topmost impact makers to help SMEs solve their financial structure problems.
“Our goal is to help 1,000 business owners build financial structure to enable them to make smart financial decisions for profitable growth and wealth creation that will attract investors.
“We want to be the destination hub for business owners to receive professional financial management advice and support to scale their companies,” she further says.
Aralepo advises entrepreneurs to find new ways of doing things and explore fresh perspectives to existing problems.
“Business is war, hence business owners need to find strength within, build resilience and receive instruction for the next level,” she notes.
“We are currently in a new world of realities and it’s a wake-up call for everyone to re-evaluate and re-strategise. It’s an opportunity to reflect, rethink, reemerge and evaluate what works for you,” she concludes.