• Tuesday, April 23, 2024
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How Ekezie is simplifying financial, inventory solutions for SMEs

How Ekezie is simplifying financial, inventory solutions for SMEs

Duke Ekezie, is the co-founder and president of Kippa Africa, a company that provides financial and inventory services for small businesses across Nigeria.

He was inspired to support small businesses owing to his vast experience in the financial industry.

“Before embarking on my entrepreneurial journey, I worked in the investment banking and finance sectors, interning at firms such as KPMG and CitiBank,” he said.

“In 2019, I also worked on Tiktok’s business and strategy team, helping them foster their entry into the Nigerian market.”

He noted that before establishing Kippa, he and his co-founder ran a defunct startup called Africave, saying he served as the chief operating officer and was responsible for all finance, administration, and operations.

According to him, the experience gained at the various establishments he had worked with inspired him to support small businesses struggling with their financial and inventory processes.

He noted that the business has grown steadily since its launch and has gotten a licence to operate as a super-agent from the Central Bank.

He stated that the licence acquisition is a significant achievement not only for the organisation but also for its users.

“It allows us to confidently expand the range of our products and services offered to small businesses,” he said.

“And currently we have gained over 500,000 registered merchants within a short period,” he said.

Responding on how the Kippa platform differs from other fintech, he said aside from payment, Kippa platform offers a variety of products that promote business efficiencies, such as bookkeeping and inventory management.

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“We also go above and beyond in areas where traditional banks fall short, particularly in terms of customer management,” he explained.

“We’ve created a community-like structure in which we use relatable, non-complex tools to make ourselves easily accessible to customers,” he said.

On the importance of customer data protection, Ekezie said “We’ve learned a lot from other companies’ mistakes, and we’ve put very actionable mechanisms in place to reduce fraud.”

“These include significant investments in KYC, compliance, and anti-fraud processes, and we prioritise customer protection in all of our services. Furthermore, we are duly regulated by the NDIC so customers can have complete confidence in the security of their data with us”, he said.

Speaking on the latest development at Kippa, he said during the peak of the naira scarcity, one notable observation was the increased demand for point-of-sale (PoS) terminals, particularly by SME merchants.

Ekezie said, “We distributed PoS devices throughout the country, including areas outside of major cities such as Adamawa, Yobe, and Imo states, as well as some remote areas.”

The implementation of a cashless society in Nigeria is beneficial in combating fraud and financial crime and also eliminates the stress of having to wait in long lines to withdraw money or even having to visit physical banks regularly, Ekezie said.

However, it comes with various drawbacks such as the internet and mobile phone penetration in many parts of Nigeria is still inadequate.

Kippa has a strong merchant distribution across all 36 states of Nigeria, and is very keen on penetrating the most remote areas of the country, he said.

“We used agency banking to effectively broaden the reach of our services. To accomplish this, we rely on community champions known as aggregators.”

“These aggregators are located throughout the country in various specific points and areas, ” Ekezie said.

For example, Kippa recently launched a new service that allows people to open bank accounts simply by approaching merchants. The goal is to promote inclusion and bridge the digital divide for people who do not live in major cities with easy access to banks and limited internet coverage.

According to him, these agents can conduct seamless transactions as long as they have an identity or a card.

On major challenges facing the business, he said it was difficult convincing people to use their services in a cash-based economy such as Nigeria.

On his advice on how the government and regulatory bodies can encourage the adoption of cashless payments, he says, “Solid policies and adequate structural aid are the two most important things government should provide.