While 2020 will go down in history as being a year of unrivalled hardship around the globe, there were industries that picked up rapidly as lockdown forced every business owner and entrepreneur to sink or swim.

“With lockdown prohibiting food and beverage outlets from opening their doors to dine-in guests at times and the reluctance of patrons to go to these outlets, the food delivery business grew massively,” says Andrew Maren, founder and CEO of fintech company ProfitShare Partners.

“Contactless delivery and online payments gave consumers some safety from Covid-19. Importantly, not all of the deliveries were made by companies that already had an app available.

“Smart, but out of work people with a scooter or car took the opportunity to offer their services to smaller restaurants and shops and a ‘cottage industry’ delivery sector was born,” says Maren.

Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) that didn’t have e-commerce facilities cobbled together systems that enabled people to buy their goods from Facebook or Twitter, and mobile payment devices allowed settlement of account on delivery.

“This agility and outside-the-box thinking paid big dividends for many,” says Maren. “Customers were willing to pay a delivery fee in exchange for their safety from the virus; small operators were able to keep staff members on; and even without the expense of e-commerce sites, small operators were able to earn.”

Who saw opportunity amid challenge?

ProfitShare Partners sees entrepreneurs and emerging businesses as key drivers of the economy and strives to provide SMEs with a simple, non-traditional solution that enables them to deliver on contracts they’ve been awarded, by partnering on the deal and supporting the project right through to delivery.

“Entrepreneurs, small, medium and micro-enterprises and emerging businesses are often constrained when they need capital to fund contracts that they have won,” says Maren.

“The risk of investing what they have – or the lack of capital – limits them from performing optimally. Being disruptors in the financial sector ourselves, we understand the ‘small guys’ as few can. With the opportunity for success within their grasp, ProfitShare Partners bridges that gap with a simple online application process.”

Maren says many a small business has developed enough trust with a large corporate to be given a substantial contract – only to turn it down due to a lack of access to capital. “This is the same mindset that sought out opportunities during lockdown, and become the people we partner with to facilitate their growth and ultimate creation of new jobs.”

The SME landscape in 2021

As Covid19 continues to mutate, it’s clear that the virus will be with us for some time, Maren says. “Nobody can say how long – but what we can say is that those who were agile enough to work differently last year already have a head-start this year.”

So, what sectors should SMEs be looking to tackle in 2021? “The IT and allied industries are a good bet, particularly with large corporates encouraging work from home (WFH) for as many staff members as they can.”

ProfitShare Partners believes SMEs with ties to the industry should be looking for distribution and/or delivery agreements with big tech companies, and must have the financial wherewithal to take on big contracts.

“The delivery industry – whether that be FMCG goods, clothing, healthcare products or fast foods – is likely to grow as government urges citizens to stay home, and shops and restaurants must continue to make a living,” Maren says. People are now also realising how convenient and time saving home deliveries are. This will lead to a behavioural change in consumers and will last long after the end of Covid.

The financial outlay and technical resources for an e-commerce site is no longer prohibitive and anyone can get an e-commerce site going relatively cheaply and quickly. SME support apps like Getlion can get your entire business started with very little effort and cost.

There are also great solutions around delivery and stockholding available now, Maren asserts. “You don’t even need to carry stock or have a warehouse. Products currently on the market will manage your merchandise and deliveries without you ever seeing your own stock.”

As a partner in the #GetSAWorking campaign that saw many small businesses grow in 2019 through the provision of a share of R100 million in capital set aside for the initiative, engaging with ProfitShare Partners is online and therefore Covid-safe.

“We want to see South African businesses grow, even during challenging times, and encourage SMEs in possession of an order to fulfil to contact us for a simple process to determine eligibility and a response within 24 hours. We want your business to do more business,” says Maren.

Ten steps to ProfitShare Partners assistance

  1. You apply online, we respond with a “yes” or a “no” within 24 hours
  2. Our website is user-friendly and easy to navigate
  3. Our staff are available to assist you every step of the way
  4. We don’t require 12 months of bank statements or proof of earnings
  5. If you are approved, you get your funds within seven days
  6. All you need is an order for your product or service from a large reputable company
  7. We help you grow until you graduate to qualify for traditional bank loans and facilities, then we are happy to introduce you to the ones we work with
  8. ProfitShare Partners was started by entrepreneurs, for entrepreneurs and SMEs
  9. PSP continues to participate in initiatives that drive an inclusive economy
  10. Our success depends on your success – we are a trusted partner with our clients
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