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Absa has ramped up its offering to SA small businesses, giving them access to financial support. Picture: SUPPLIED/ABSA
Absa has ramped up its offering to SA small businesses, giving them access to financial support. Picture: SUPPLIED/ABSA

While the small and medium enterprises (SME) sector has been pegged as an important driver in recovering SA’s Covid-ravaged economy, the landscape for business owners is still difficult to navigate — especially when accessing funding and support. 

The SME sector was hit hard throughout the various waves of the pandemic. This resulted in many small enterprises reducing business activity, laying off staff and some having to close their doors completely. 

With this in mind, Absa is ramping up its offering to its SME clients through innovation and value-added product offerings — making this a strategic pillar for the business in the next three years.

Collaboration with experts in the digital space will be an important part of this commitment. The bank has already announced one such collaboration. In March 2022, a market-first mobile payment acceptance solution was developed in conjunction with technology firm Wizzit Digital.

The system enables Absa merchants to use their android smartphones as a point-of-sale device by simply downloading the Absa Mobile Pay app. This is a cost-effective way to facilitate contactless payments for SMEs. 

But Absa’s digital focus extends further than payments. 

Absa’s digital tools and services are designed to make day-to-day banking operations easy 
Absa's Faisal Mkhize

“We have to start thinking like small business owners to truly provide the relevant products and support Absa clients need to succeed,” says Faisal Mkhize, managing executive for relationship banking at Absa retail and business banking.

“Applying for business funding should be easy for the applicant and processed in the shortest time possible. By speeding up and simplifying the digital application and approval processes, Absa hopes to take frustration, red tape and unnecessary delays out of the equation when SME owners apply for loans,” he says. 

While digital innovation will help to remove many of the hurdles, Mkhize says the importance of the human touch should not be forgotten. Absa therefore provides 24/7 support, a branch network and small business bankers across the country. 

In its quest to deepen relationships with SMEs, Absa must get closer to the action, says Mkhize. Absa’s small business advisers will be spending a lot more time on the field, visiting small businesses and talking to entrepreneurs to gain a better understanding of the challenges they face. Mkhize says this initiative will grow the bank’s ability to help co-solve problems and help businesses to rebuild and grow. 

To further bolster its commitment towards SME clients, Absa announced its Small Business Friday campaign — where Absa Rewards clients who shop at participating Absa SME merchant outlets on Fridays, will earn double cash back when paying with an Absa card. This encourages the people of SA to support SMEs

Absa’s SME clients will be profiled on a dedicated small business portal and receive cash rewards when they reach certain milestones across their Absa card point-of-sale devices for the month. 

“Beyond the loan, Absa’s digital tools and services are designed to make day-to-day banking operations easy — connecting SMEs to an ecosystem which provides support, advice and opportunity. If Absa SME clients succeed, so does Absa,” says Mkhize.  

Absa is an authorised financial services and registered credit provider, Reg no: NCRCP7. 

This article was paid for by Absa. 

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