Lulalend uses fintech to speed up SME lending

Lulalend uses fintech to speed up SME lending

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Having experienced the funding struggles so many South African business owners do, Lulalend CEO and Entrepreneur Trevor Gosling knew how important it would be to partner with someone who could supercharge the online business funding platform with technology to solve a key issue: speed. When he joined forces with co-founder Neil Welman, whose engineering background has given him a knack for using software to solve problems, the result was a fast and friendly user experience tailored to the needs of busy and underserved entrepreneurs, which was both secure and scalable – the Lulalend platform as you know it today. 

Neil’s work never ends and technology is ever-evolving. If he’s not working with our team to add even more robust site features or finding ways to improve and streamline our already airtight processes, there’s a good chance he’s mapping out the next steps in our big picture plans. We did manage to steal a few minutes to pick Neil’s brain on all things fintech, and its ability to break down the barriers to financial inclusivity for South African SMEs.

 

How do you believe tech has influenced the finance industry over the last 10 years or so?

It has had a major impact on reducing the underbanked sector, and for the consumer it has meant a far better experience in terms of connecting and engaging with financial services. 

How does this benefit South African consumers?

It means so much more opportunity. SA has a much higher banked population than the African average and well established credit bureaus, this is a big enabler for a digital financial ecosystem to evolve. 

What was the thinking behind creating the tech that powers the Lulalend platform? What were your key objectives in this process?

When we researched the challenges small businesses have with accessing funding we quickly realized that time and cost of an assessment were the main limiting factors. We felt using technology was the way to solve these and so set out to fully digitize and automate the entire experience of accessing funding.

How does Lulalend’s technology support speed, security and the overall experience for our community?

Having all our risk assessment models hosted on our platform allows us to automate the entire process. This eliminates the key operational cost usually associated with assessment and allows us to offer funding for even relatively small amounts at a lower cost.

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced working on a platform like this?

When you design a platform like this the key goals to achieve are security, performance, scalability, implementing business functionality and ensuring you always have sufficient tech talent to achieve these. Each one will present a challenge at various points along the way but if you keep proactively focusing on each the challenge is always manageable.

How do you see the platform evolving as we grow our community and our offerings?

We plan to become more of an ecosystem to assist small business owners achieve their potential by assisting in all financial areas.

 

5 reasons to feel good about being an SME in South Africa

5 reasons to feel good about being an SME in South Africa

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Running a business in South Africa is just not the same as running a business anywhere else in the world. Sure, there are some universal challenges that every business will encounter at some point in their journey, but there’s a reason why the hashtag #onlyinsouthafrica has such a following. We’re unique – in our adversity; in the way we solve problems; and, as we saw in the 2019 Rugby World Cup final, in our victories. 

So despite the many challenges that businesses face on a daily basis in our country, we wanted to celebrate a few proud points and inspiring thoughts about being a South African SME:

 

You want to make a difference

According to a report by SME South Africa, the number one reason given by South African business owners as to why they started their businesses was to have a positive impact in society. The impact of this motivation could create more job opportunities for the millions of South Africans who need them, as well as more businesses which are driven by purpose. Like Recruit My Mom, a platform that helps women find flexi-jobs that fit with their schedules.

You make a plan

Load shedding, water cuts or economic nosedives – you can count on South Africans to make a plan. Having to manage constant variables has become second nature to so many business owners and it’s fostering a nation of highly skilled and agile problem solvers. Lumkani, as an example, is a company that was established out of a need to solve the problem we face with fires in townships. The local company services informal settlements with unique fire detectors and insurance.

You’re empowered by tech

Technology and the age of the internet has been a huge unlock for businesses in terms of access. Even though 50% of South African business owners still feel that technology is holding them back from achieving their growth aspirations in some way, there are so many innovative South African businesses who are harnessing tech to break down barriers and create meaningful services for our communities. Like Namola, an app that allows you to very quickly contact emergency services by sharing your location with them. Livestockwealth has even created a way for people to invest in cows and for farmers to get the investment they need to grow their farms through their platform.

You’re a snapshot of South African diversity

When we interact with our Lulalend community, we’re always inspired by the diversity we see in the businesses and people we are able to support and provide funding to. This ranges from every industry you can think of: tech services to tattoo parlours, butcheries to bedding companies, doctors to DIY building suppliers. Some of the members in our community are only 19 years old, while others are well into their 70’s. Diversity is a measure of strength and a promising forecast of an even more inclusive economy. 

Team Lulalend answers your funding questions

Team Lulalend answers your funding questions

Reading Time: 3 minutes

We know that speed and efficiency are really important to business owners. In fact it’s become a standard expectation for anyone nowadays to have a slick and easy online experience when they interact with a company or service. That’s how brands like Uber, Netflix or AirBnb have become such a regular part of so many people’s lives. It’s also why cutting edge technology was a huge focus when we built our platform. Today that means we’re able to process funding applications within minutes and deliver approvals within hours. 

But there’s another part to this equation that is equally important to us, and that is: people. Running a business is personal. It comes with challenges and a thousand unknown outcomes that can really test you; while also giving you the opportunity for fulfillment and success beyond what you could have ever imagined. When you interact with Lulalend, you can be sure there’s a human taking your unique needs into consideration every step of the way – even if you never actually speak to them. But a lot of the time, you do. 

We asked our team to share some of the most common questions they get from small businesses, as well as their responses:

 

How can I apply?

“You can either apply online, or you can call in and a consultant will help you complete your application. You’ll hear back from us in minutes and can receive funding in hours.” 

Xolani Jelemsi, Business Funding Specialist

 

What is the interest rate you charge?

“Our funding works differently to a traditional bank loan and is not based on an interest rate. Instead, we charge a fixed cost which is based on your overall business health and unique to your business needs; because every business is different.’’

Clayton van Wyk, Business Funding Specialist

 

Why is my funding quote lower than the amount I requested?

“We’re really proud of being responsible lenders and we do not want your business to be overextended in any way. We want you to be able to comfortably afford the funding. After paying back 50% of your funding you’ll have the option to come back and, depending on the performance of your business, qualify for a re-advance.”

Heidi Alson, Business Funding Specialist

 

Why are your rates different to a bank’s?

“We aren’t competing with the banks as we offer something completely different – we provide short term funding. Having no penalty fees for settling early means that you only pay for the period you have the advance for. This can mean a huge savings, depending on how early you settle” 

Lene Schlebusch-Kemp, Business Development Consultant

 

What are the benefits of taking short term funding, instead of long term funding?

“Working with a time period of 6 or 12 months means you’re not being tied down to debt for too long. You can access the money you need right now to benefit your business and create opportunities for growth in the long term.”

Kaushik Fakir, Business Funding Specialist

 

“Our fixed cost structure means you can forecast your finances without any fluctuations or hidden costs over that period. A lot of business owners really value that transparency.”

Sheldon Fortune, Business Funding Specialist

 

What is unsecured funding?

“Unsecured funding means that as the lender, we rely on your promise to pay back the amount we approve you for, and we don’t require collateral. You don’t need to include any assets as part of your funding, which the banks would require as a second option should you default on your repayment.”

Tracey Kukard, Business Development Consultant

 

How legit is Lulalend?

“Lulalend is a registered business which has been trading for 5 years. We’re a member of The South African SME Finance Association (SASFA), an organisation which encourages transparent and responsible lending to small businesses. We subscribe to a code of conduct that is focussed on protecting SME customers. 

We’ve also featured in quite a few reputable and established publications such as Cape Talk, Finweek, CNBC Africa and Business Report.  

There are lots of customer testimonials on our website and social media pages which share the experiences other South African businesses have had with Lulalend.” 

Lucille Bester, Senior Credit Manager