Nakuru is a small burgeoning town in Kenya with a rising economy thanks to the entrepreneurial spirit of the likes of Philbert, who embodies what our forefathers said in the last line of our national anthem: “(let) the fruit of our labour fill every heart with thanksgiving.” His journey has, however, not been a bed of roses all through.
As a young father, Philbert is self employed and relies on his small business to fend for his young family and educate his kids. He does computer repairs and sells accessories to his customers. To have a competitive edge, he has to sell on credit to his customers hoping that they will come back to pay so that he can not only have cash for his family but also sustain and grow his business.
2 years ago, his business faced a threat and imminent closure. Covid had hit every corner of the world and interfered with the supply chain. The cost of his computer accessories had skyrocketed and due to lock down, his customers rarely came back to the shop which provided a breeding ground for defaulting on their pending payments.
This changed when he found Patika, as he tells us. By recording these pending payments on Patika app, Philbert started seeing increased payments from the customers he thought had defaulted. “I’d wake up in the morning to an sms notification that so and so, who had defaulted for months, has paid.” He tells us. With Patika, his customers no longer needed to come back to the shop to pay in cash and also those who thought they didn’t have to pay because they didn’t have to be seen by Philbert now felt seen through the reminders and immediately made their payments through Patika. “Biz ikiwa mbaya ama on a go slow we go back to records and try skuma watu walipe tudeni ndio we restock ata kidogo ya ku run business so that mteja next asikose kitu ya kubuy (When the business is on a go slow, we rely on the records and reminders to have customers pay so we can get money to restock and prevent stock outs for the next customers).” Philbert says.
What makes Philbert stand out is how he has managed to bounce back from Covid19, making his business have even more cash flow than it did before the pandemic. He noticed that most of his customers were now working from home but didn’t have internet access and that gave him an opportunity to expand his business into offering WiFi access services to them, with the help of Patika to bill and collect payments from these clients on a weekly basis. “I did set up a wifi network where people pay weekly, and every Monday was due date. You’d find someone hasn’t paid by Wednesday. So with patika I used the recurring debt and now even if they delay payments, the records all exist. They don’t know it’s automated and think I’m on their case….and that helped to minimise lots of losses.” He happily narrates to us.
The story of Philbert tells us how MSMEs in Africa are at the forefront of resilience and building back better and stronger economies from the effects of Covid19 as embodied in SDG8: “Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.” We at Patika couldn’t be more proud that we are continuing to help Philbert and thousands of other small businesses across Africa build sustainable and resilient businesses that’ll create more jobs and reduce poverty in our economies.