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An online portal that instantly compares finance options for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) will help address the number one challenge that SMEs in South Africa face – access to finances.


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When starting a business, the number one resource entrepreneurs need is money. One of the main issues SME owners face is access to capital. Fortunately, an online portal is available that compares finance options for small business owners.

Michael Bowren, Fincheck Business CEO, says that small business owners often take out personal loans to finance their businesses because they are unaware of other options. This usually puts a business who is positioned growth, into survival mode and seldom leads to its sustainability. 

The business-to-business portal is the first of its kind and compares legitimate financial products that many business owners and entrepreneurs haven’t even heard of. It also allows users to compare business accounts, forex deals, merchant terminals and online payment gateways.

Many entrepreneurs who are determined to take their business to the next level consider the government, the back or family and friends. However, there are creative options developed by accredited financial institutions. For example, there are other options such as merchant cash advance, unsecured loans, invoice discounting and asset finance.

The Fincheck business portal presents accredited financial service offerings and provides a detailed description, costs, advantages and disadvantages of each financing option. They aim to educate and inform, and help SMEs scale and grow in a sustainable way. We often hear of business owners, desperate to move their business forward, ending up in shifty deals with rogue loan providers which put the business in jeopardy.

A merchant cash advance is not technically a loan, but it allows a business to get much-needed funds for cash flow, operations and revenue-generating activities like marketing, expanding and acquiring stock. The business receives a cash advance, based on previous turnover. The cash advance is made upfront as a lump sum with no fixed interest rate and no fixed repayment term. Repayment is made via a small, fixed percentage of incoming transactions until the cash advance is paid off.

SMEs can go for unsecured SME loans which do not require them to own an asset - they do not need collateral. A business that urgently needs cash flow should consider this loan option. Lenders will base their decision on a business’ credit report, income history and income potential. There are very definite advantages and disadvantages to unsecured SME loans that the business owner must thoroughly investigate first.

In South Africa, invoice discounting is a popular option for merchants to improve their cash flow. By taking out a loan against their sent invoices, it works like bridging finance. Invoice discounting can be a relevant option for a business when its capital is tied up in stock or when it is working on customer payment terms of 30, 60 and even 90 days.

“Companies with a consistent turnover of over R100 000, that have established supply chain structures and reliable systems for collecting payments are most likely to be suitable for invoice discounting. It is a great resource for an SME to continue operations, but it must be handled responsibly.” says Bowren.

Asset finance is used to buy assets, such as equipment, that are vital for a business to function and grow. Smaller payments are made and spread out over a period of time. Because one big lump sum doesn’t have to be paid up front, working capital is freed up for other important business needs.

The need for new assets, especially for specialised equipment, can be a daunting prospect for a business owner who also may simply not be able to afford it. Some finance providers specialise in specific assets, and can provide expert knowledge. Due to interest and fees, the total sum of payments the business will make will be higher than the outright purchase. The business must also research the different types of asset finances that are available too, such as leasing and hire purchase.

Fincheck Business is the expansion of the financial comparison website for consumers, launched earlier this year.

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