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Cowrywise is digitizing treasury management for start-ups, SMEs, non-profit organizations and corporations

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Ope from Cowrywise | June 16, 2022

Businesses and companies tend to hold different cash positions for various reasons. Some businesses prefer to hold cash, treasury bills, certificates of deposit, short-term bonds or other liquid assets to mitigate liquidity risks, and give them quick access to cash when necessary. Other businesses prefer to deposit their cash in banks that invariably offer seemingly low interest rates and returns, whilst others choose to invest them in low-risk financial instruments through traditional fund managers, with little or no autonomy or control over the nature of these investments in question or the risks associated with them.

What is clear is that there are downsides to holding these cash positions. On one hand, holding too much cash gives businesses easy liquidity at the expense of the opportunity to invest and earn returns, since holding cash generates relatively low value. On the other hand, other businesses that invest their funds with traditional fund managers do so at the expense of their autonomy, transparency regarding available market rates and the capacity to invest on their own terms.

Regardless, such businesses have something to lose.

So, is it strategic for businesses to hold too much cash? Should businesses reconsider their positions on investing their business cash? More importantly, should your business consider investing idle business funds in a transparent, central platform that leverages the power of technology and asset management to help you unlock an additional income stream? Is such a tool available?

Cowrywise is a digital-first wealth management platform founded on the belief that “investing should be as a simple as sending a tweet”, with the singular vision to simplify and enable access to savings and investment products to the growing population of underserved Africans and millenials. Since Cowrywise began operations in 2017, Cowrywise has helped hundreds of thousands of Nigerians to build wealth and healthy budgetary and saving habits and is at the frontier of digitizing wealth management for retail investors and businesses.

And now, Cowrywise has expanded its vision to tackle a common problem facing businesses today, by developing Sprout to help businesses invest easily and build wealth while preserving their capital.

What is Sprout by Cowrywise?

Sprout by Cowrywise is a technology-first approach to investing for businesses, that offers one central platform to identify, make and manage investments from top fund managers in the country. As a corporate treasury management tool, it is positioned as the best alternative to the antiquated, traditional treasury management process available today, which is manual, opaque, prone to arbitrage and exposes businesses to liquidity and operational risks.

With a key focus on security, liquidity and yield (SLY), Sprout by Cowrywise gives businesses access to invest in safe, liquid, better-yielding investment products (money market funds and indexes), purposely and carefully-curated to avoid putting your business cash at risk.

Businesses that use Sprout have access to one central dashboard (right on their desktops), giving them the autonomy they need to manage and monitor their investments. Through Sprout, businesses can identify aggregated investments from top asset managers in the country and have the freedom to ascertain the best interest rates that work for them.

What Sprout offers businesses that others don’t

Sprout gives businesses key benefits that are unparalleled in the industry: Capital preservation: Leverage low-risk investment products for your business, such as money market mutual funds from top asset managers.

Transparency: Sprout gives an eagle’s eye view into all your investment transactions with a single, easy-to-understand dashboard, and access to real-time reports and data. No hidden fees. No jargons.

Flexible investment terms: Choose an investment tenure that works for your business and investment goal.

Easy set-up: With the necessary documentation on hand, businesses can set-up an account on Sprout in 5 mins or less.

Liquidate anytime: Convert your investment to cash within 48 hours whenever there’s a need – no hassle of long queues, calls or paperwork.

Better yield: Supercharge your revenue and switch from leaving idle cash in the bank. Start generating safe, additional income while preserving your capital, in a robust investment portfolio of money market securities from top asset managers. Security: Sprout also offers round the clock, bank grade security and protection, on account of being PCI-DSS compliant and securing an SEC License.

Key Takeaways

  1. Businesses hold cash positions for different reasons, majorly to have quick access to cash as the need arises
  2. Other business tend to keep their funds in banks or invest in low-risk financial instruments through traditional fund managers
  3. Sprout by Cowrywise offers businesses access to carefully curated portfolio of funds that yield better returns, with the additional benefits of easy liquidation, round-the-clock security and one easy-to-use platform to make and manage investments

How can you set up your business to enjoy better yielding returns?

Since Sprout launched in the last week of May, several businesses have pivoted to adopt Sprout to achieve their investment objectives. Your business can take advantage of Sprout to unlock an additional income stream.

Activating your account requires a few corporate documents such as Incorporation/Registration documents, proof of address etc. It only requires a few clicks and a few minutes.

Visit https://cowrywise.com/sprout to get started.

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 Analysing the demands of Nigerian SMEs to achieve global competitiveness 

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Growing globalisation presents Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) across the globe with an unprecedented opportunity to extend market reach, enhance performance, and potentially upscale to larger companies. Thanks to global interconnectedness, a small family-run business in a remote part of China can manufacture shirts and export worldwide. This is the case for most Chinese SMEs. In 2020 they accounted for 68% of Chinese exports, according to estimates by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). In Nigeria, the reality is different for most small and medium-sized businesses. 

In its latest report, the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) reported that only 7.7% of business enterprises surveyed exported their goods or services. Of this crop of businesses, 95.3% of exports value less than 10 million Naira ($23,300). This export data highlights the gross under-representation of Nigerian SMEs in international trade despite contributing to nearly half of the domestic GDP when combined with micro-scale businesses. 

The exclusion of Nigerian SMEs from global trade matters because the success of small and medium-scale businesses will directly translate to the enhanced global competitiveness of the Nigerian economy. China and India, both highly populated developing countries, have risen to prominence on the back of value-creation by entrepreneurs in SMEs. 

Furthermore, there is only so much value that can be created within a geographical market; however, expansion to other regions can create new demand and opportunities. Take, for instance, the $93 billion global oil palm industry where Nigeria has a market share of less than 5% despite having abundant natural and human resources to potentially produce and supply oil palm as well as derivatives. We lose out on the multi-fold values that could have been derived from processing and exporting to the vast global market if our agricultural commodities are only consumed within the country and our SMEs fail to break into the global markets. 

There is a plethora of reasons why less than a handful of SMEs in Nigeria are engaged in exports; most of the bottlenecks are behind the borders and overlap with challenges already identified by small and medium business operators. In the 2021 SMEDAN report, 92.4% of surveyed businesses believed the biggest challenge to enterprise development was the lack of finance.  

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The availability of funding is critical for the day-to-day operation of businesses as well as financing business expansion in the long term. Due to high-interest rates, high rates of informality, poor documentation culture, lack of sufficient cash flow, and weak macroeconomic conditions, many SMEs are unable to obtain loans from most financial institutions. Where obtaining a loan is possible, for example from a micro-finance bank, the volume is too little to make a meaningful impact while the volume of loans disbursed by government programs is good but could be better. As a result, 48% of SMEs depend on family and friends, while 15% rely on credit facilities, 8% on trade credit, 6% on co-operatives, and 6% on grants based on PwC MSME Survey 2020.  

Yet, engaging in exports is a capital-intensive venture because of the need to produce goods that meet international standards, as well as investments that need to be put into securing authorization (from Nigeria Export Promotion Council, Standards Organisation of Nigeria, NAFDAC, CBN, etc.) for exports and facilitating the logistics.  

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Another area in SMEs that needs intervention to improve their development, and in turn, global participation is the provision of infrastructure. Per the SMEDAN report, 20.9% consider the paucity of the quality physical infrastructure to be a critical challenge. The problem of infrastructure extends across the entire chain of value businesses rely on. Epileptic power supply means shorter production hours, high operating costs when generating sets (industrial or residential) are employed, or even high capital expenditure to procure alternative power sources. After scaling the issues of power supply, SMEs face obstacles imposed by poor transportation networks. For SMEs involved in exports, goods can be stuck for months at the port and end up in poor form by the time they arrive at their destination. 

Another area of demand for SMEs and similar businesses is vocational and entrepreneurship training. From the SMEDAN report, 20.8% of surveyed businesses rated gaps in vocational and business skills as the main constraint on enterprise development. Often overlooked, entrepreneurship and management skills are a bedrock of SMEs’ success. Programs on vocation and entrepreneurship will help business owners and operators learn essential business skills such as financial and risk management, strategy, sourcing business capital, taxation, human resource management, and so on. This training will also help businesses formalise and position themselves for better opportunities in the market.  

Other pressing demands of SMEs are the need for workspaces, consistent government policies, and access to research & development. Concerning government policies, some of the pain points of businesses are the multiplicity of taxes, demolition of properties, high fuel prices, customs duties, a ban on particular raw materials importation, and trade permits.  

The government would need to improve accessibility to capital to improve the situation for SMEs. Several state and private funding initiatives such as FGN Special Intervention Fund for MSMEs, National Enterprise Development Programme, the YouWIN Connect Nigeria program, The Youth Entrepreneurship Support (YES) Programme, Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme (TEEP), and Lagos State Entrepreneurs Trust Fund (LSETF) already exist amongst others. Improving access would involve creating more specialised funds for women entrepreneurs, and training SMEs on how to keep records and apply for existing credit and grants.  

There are no shortcuts to solving the problem of infrastructure for SMEs, but one quick win is expanding opportunities for export-oriented SMEs to participate more in Free Trade Zones (FTZs). FTZ, as defined by Mondaq, is any location where goods can be shipped, handled, manufactured, reconfigured, and re-exported without the involvement of customs agencies. These zones have a tendency to have better infrastructure and streamlined processes that allow a smoother flow of goods.  

On vocational and entrepreneurial training, a partnership by local and foreign experts in the private sector with the government in organising workshops, seminars, boot camps, and similar programs for SME owners and operators will go a long way. Through tax incentives consulting firms like the Big 4s can be encouraged to organise training for SMEs in areas like digitalisation, taxation, financial records keeping, and business strategy. This idea can be extended to the areas of research and development. Asides from private and public research institutes, academia can be a viable partner to pair SMEs with so that new products and technology can be developed. 

To conclude, it is paramount to drive home the point that SMEs hold so much potential to enhance growth and development for Nigeria, as is the case for many developing countries. The limitation faced by SMEs in global market participation is therefore an important issue for national development that must be addressed by all stakeholders.  

About the author:

 Connect with Nnamdi Okoh on Instagram @nnamdiokoh, Twitter @Lord_nnamz and LinkedIn @Nnamdi Okoh. Learn more about Terminal Africa’s service offerings at www.terminal.africa.

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Lagos seals 42 health facilities across the state

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The Lagos State Government, through the Health Facilities Monitoring and Accreditation Agency (HEFAMAA) has sealed a total of 42 health facilities out of about 1040 visited between January and September 2022. 

This was made known by the executive secretary of HEFAMAA, Dr. Abiola Idowu, in Ikeja while reviewing the activities of the agency in the nine-month period. 

Sealed for non-compliance with regulatory standards: Idowu said the facilities were sealed for non-compliance with regulatory standards, adding that other infractions committed include non-registration of facilities and lack of qualified medical personnel, as well as the illegal training of auxiliary nurses.  

She disclosed that in the same period, 170 facilities across the state were inspected for registration, while about 157 closure notices were issued. 

Idowu explained that the key areas monitoring officers focus on during monitoring and inspection exercises of health facilities are: the qualification of personnel, operation processes of the facility, the environment, and the standard of equipment. 

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On HEFAMAA’s monitoring activities, the executive secretary explained that the aim of the franchise is to improve the effectiveness of the monitoring exercise so that all the health facilities in the state can be monitored at least twice a year as the law stipulates. 

  • She said, “The Agency is empowered by the Health Sector Reform (HSR) Law 2006 to franchise some of its activities. Section 49 (5) of the law granted the agency the power to select franchise companies to monitor and ensure compliance with the law by health facilities in the state.’’ 

Get acquainted with the law: Dr. Idowu, therefore, advised owners and operators of health facilities to get acquainted with the law and carry out their operations in accordance with it to safeguard the health of the people. 

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She also emphasized the commitment of the state government to sustain the fight against quackery and unprofessional conduct in the system, as well as urged intending operators to ensure proper registration with the agency through its website, hefamaa.lagosstate.gov.ng before commencing operations. 

Going further, she added that existing registered operators should ensure prompt renewal of their certificates to avoid being sanctioned. 

 

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Nigeria produces 13% of global tantalum output – EITI

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The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) said Nigeria produces 13% of the global production of tantalum. 

EITI disclosed this in its 2022 Mission Critical Report which was released on Wednesday, November 2.   

Tantalum is a highly resistant mineral used in manufacturing electronics, especially mobile phones, laptops, and super alloys. 

According to EITI, the mineral will potentially be used in electric vehicle (EV) batteries, depending on the technology development and deployment of alternative zero-cobalt batteries.    

In 2021, China recorded imports of tantalum from Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Madagascar, Mozambique, and Sierra Leone.   

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Nigeria lacks mining data: The report showed that aside from the recorded tantalum production rate, Nigeria rarely had any definite data for 14 of the minerals highlighted in the report. That’s because the country’s solid mineral sector is characterised by artisanal mining and small-scale mining of manganese and tantalum. 

Lack of data discourages investors: The report showed that exploration and mapping of mineral deposits are limited in many EITI-implementing countries, especially African countries like Nigeria. The availability of comprehensive and public geological data determines the ability of resource-rich countries to attract responsible investors and negotiate favourable terms for the country and its people.  

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The importance of open geological data: EITI said access to open geological data is important to support a transition mineral development strategy and to level the playing field in negotiations between governments, companies, and communities. Transparent information can improve the terms of contracts, facilitate mine planning, and ensure that all stakeholders are well informed.  

Profit shifting in Nigerian mining market: In October 2021, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said countries like Nigeria lose $600 million in revenue due to tax rate differences between African countries and offshore affiliates in the same multi-national enterprises’ group.   

The EITI report corroborates what the IMF said. The report said: 

  • “Research on profit shifting in mining across Sub-Saharan Africa indicates that African countries are losing, on average, between $470 million and $730 million per year in corporate income tax from MNE tax avoidance. The baseline estimate – which also includes Sub-Saharan African economies with small mining sectors – suggests a revenue loss of about $600 million, based on tax rate differentials between African countries and offshore affiliates in the same MNE group.”   

What you should know: Tax base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) is a serious governance challenge for countries pursuing resource revenues from the taxation of multinational enterprises (MNEs).  

  • BEPS occurs when companies shift reporting of profits generated in higher tax jurisdictions to other parts of their business in lower tax or no-tax jurisdictions.  
  • This challenge could become more pronounced in the transition minerals sector given the integrated business structures of many of the MNEs involved in mining, processing, refining, marketing, and trading in transition minerals across multiple jurisdictions.  
  • There are also increasingly powerful global partnerships controlling transition mineral value chains, for example, through the consolidation of mine-to-car business deals by upstream and downstream MNEs.    

Nigeria must take action: Nigeria and other sub-Saharan African countries need to take intentional steps to maximize their mineral resources, especially in the era of the global energy transition.  

  • During the October 2022 Reuters Impact Climate Conference in London, the president of the Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), Samaila Zubairu said it was time for Africa to rethink the approach to its mining value chain.  
  • According to him, mining is carried out in Africa, and the minerals are exported to Asia where they are processed and exported to other parts of the world. He said that this cannot continue and Africa needs to also process mineral resources so, there is value capture here before exports take place, and Africa can expand its mining capacity.   
  • Zubairu said; “Africa needs to expand its mining capacity, more minerals should be sourced, mined, and processed here on the continent. More investments in adaptation will increase infrastructural capacity.” 

 

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