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How the launch of three new VAT tools will assist SMEs

Global cloud accounting software provider, Xero has announced the launch of three new VAT cloud tools that aim to assist SMEs in SA.

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With the aim to resolve the tedious and traditionally costly process of processing VAT (value-added tax) for businesses, global cloud accounting software provider, Xero has announced the launch of three new VAT cloud tools.

Xero becomes the first accounting software to launch an eFiling trial with SARS

The newly developed tools aim to transform how SMEs manage VAT and will allow businesses to prepare, submit, and store VAT returns through Xero platform and to the South Africa Reserve Bank (SARS).

The new cloud service tools include VAT Return Form, VAT Late Claims functionality, and eFiling.

In an official press release, Colin Timmis, Country Manager South Africa at Xero explains that the new VAT cloud tools will assist SMEs and contribute to the digital transformation in the tax industry.

“This is a game-changer for accountants and small businesses in South Africa and will give them one simple workflow. We’ve worked closely with tax bodies in other markets – like the UK and Australia – to support their drive towards digitisation in the tax industry. These new tools will be a much-needed boost for digitisation in SA, in line with SARS’ agenda and that of the wider government. We need to make the tax process easier so businesses don’t damage their chance of survival with unnecessary penalties or interest. This innovation, along with other Xero tools like data capture tool Hubdoc, will help future-proof businesses.”

The cloud tools have been designed to improve systems for SMEs and advisors by assisting in the increase of efficiency, reducing errors, improving accuracy, and allowing businesses to gain more control over finances.

Assisting SMEs

Jeanne Viljoen, Project Director for Practices at the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) explains that the cloud tools reduce admin and transforms the way businesses operate.

“Making tax simpler is key in reducing costs associated with compliance. These VAT tools not only make it easier for businesses to be compliant but also save time. This allows business owners to focus on their business rather than the admin. Embracing technology streamlines processes and creates a collaborative working arrangement between businesses, accounting firms, and government.”

Xero claims to have 2.45-million subscribers globally and provides small business owners and its accountants the opportunity to access real-time financial data at any time on any device.

Shahied Daniels, Chief Executive of the South African Institute of Professional Accountants (SAIPA) comments on the importance of the cloud tools for accountants to accelerate digitisation in not only SA’s tax industry but also the general economy.

“This is a great step forward in the wider industry’s mission to set Professional Accountants up for the future and with the right tools to embrace 4IR. Professional Accountants have an essential role to play in the future of SA’s economy, and digitisation of processes like VAT will be vital in enabling this.”

Available cloud tools

The eFiling cloud tool with SARS is intended to launch in the first quarter of 2021 as it is in beta trial stages however, the VAT Return and Late Claims are accessible now.

The eFiling tool will give users the opportunity to file VAT201 forms electronically to SARS via the Xero platform. Once submitted, the forms are processed by SARS and consumers will be able to check their status the day after submission.

The VAT201 return form has been created in line with the requirements of the SARS’ version. Users are able to view the list of transactions that make up each return which will enable them to transcribe into journals if necessary.

Accountants and SMEs are able to include transactions from the previous tax period in the current tax period through the Late Claims VAT tool. The tool also eliminates users adjusting accounts or tracking invoices to claim by ensuring the invoice appears in the accurate reporting period and gets added to the next VAT return.

Mike Anderson, founder, and CEO of The National Small Business Chamber (NSBC) comments that the VAT cloud tools are accelerating the digitisation of the tax industry.

“The small business community is already facing so many challenges. As they continue to weather the storm, they need time to focus on their recovery. It’s great to see this kind of innovation helping to automate and digitise processes like VAT – keeping SMEs compliant and giving them time back to focus on the most important things. We hope to see more areas of small business going this way in the future.”

Xero provides an ecosystem that consists of more than 800 third-party apps and over 200 connections to banks and various financial partners.

The Xero VAT tools are available to accountants and bookkeepers at no additional cost via the Xero Partner Programme.

Nicole Rousseau, Head of PKF Ignite, proudly comments that the new suite of cloud services will transform consultations with clients.

“Xero’s new VAT tools are the solution we have needed for many years to help SMEs, and it will revolutionise the way we advise our clients. This move reaffirms Xero’s commitment and dedication to the small business owner, and we are proud to have been part of the testing team as Xero developed this.”

The VAT Return Form and Late Claims functionality are readily available for accountants and SMEs. The new suite of cloud services will significantly improve businesses’ administration process.

CloudConvert, the local app partner, supports the integration with SARS.

Amanda Orselli, Head of BDODrive South Africa explains that the VAT tools will assist accountants and revolutionise the industry.

“This is a significant step forward for the accounting industry, giving us one platform to monitor and manage VAT compliance for our clients. This speaks to the future of our industry and the role digitisation can play in improving efficiencies and streamlining workflows. It will help us to equip small businesses with the right tools to free them up from admin, so they can remain focussed on growth.”

Read more: Local fintech startup aims to financially assist SMEs
Read more: Google launches initiatives to assist small businesses

Featured Image: Oleg Magni va Pexels

“This is a game-changer for accountants and small businesses in South Africa and will give them one simple workflow. We’ve worked closely with tax bodies in other markets – like the UK and Australia – to support their drive towards digitisation in the tax industry. These new tools will be a much-needed boost for digitisation in SA, in line with SARS’ agenda and that of the wider government. We need to make the tax process easier so businesses don’t damage their chance of survival with unnecessary penalties or interest. This innovation, along with other Xero tools like data capture tool Hubdoc, will help future-proof businesses.”

Source: https://ventureburn.com/2020/12/how-the-launch-of-three-new-vat-tools-will-assist-smes/

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AlphaCode awards R2-million and support to fintech startups

The 10 startups, which have just completed a three-month programme, competed for one of four places in an extended 6-month programme.

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SA’s best up and coming fintech startups sweated it out at a virtual demo day yesterday where they had just five minutes each to convince a panel of judges that they should be part of the second phase of the AlphaCode Incubate programme.

AlphaCode awards R2-million and further support to fintech startups at latest demo day

The 10 startups, which have just completed a three-month programme, competed for one of four places in an extended 6-month programme valued at almost R1.5-million each. Their success, which was validated by their ability to get traction in a short time, unlocks further funding of R500 000 each and tailored business support.

Andile Maseko, head of ecosystem development at AlphaCode provides insight into the programme.

“Despite a tumultuous year, a number of entrepreneurs saw how they could fill a gap in the market for financial services and related industries. Those selected in the top four earned the opportunity for further funding and mentorship. The first part of the intensive programme focused on entrepreneurship and refining business models. The second phase will focus on revenue generation.”

In addition, these startups will be able to apply for seed capital from AlphaCode’s fund that invests in early-stage startups.

The four promising businesses selected

AgriCool is an e-marketplace that links smallholding farmers and buyers to a fair and reliable market. It offers farmers access to finance, reliable information on improving their production, and it works with both formal and informal markets.

Street vendors, retailers, the hospitality industry can get fresh produce delivered, saving them transportation costs. Founder: Zamokuhle Thwala.

Bento is an out-of-the-box employee perks and benefits platform. It gives employers a simple and cost-effective solution to offer employee benefits without the cost and administrative burden. Employees are empowered to self-manage their benefits and perks which gives them freedom of choice over their remuneration structure and take-home pay. Co-founders: Claudia Snyman, Dennis Williams, Bryn Divey, and Ross Horak.

Imfuyo Technologies is developing a smart farming solution that will give livestock farmers better oversight of their operations at viable cost points. The initial offering will consist of a smart tracker that will collect critical data about cattle location and behaviour.

The data is analysed to enable farmers to optimise farming activities. The platform will also serve as a de facto cattle deeds office, providing better traceability across the beef production value chain. Through Imfuyo Technologies, livestock farmers also have better access to financial markets. Founder: Allasandro Da Gama.

MatchKit.co helps athletes better commercialise their careers. The platform helps athletes make money, regardless of the status of sporting events. It integrates into existing social media channels and stats to showcase the value of an athlete’s digital audience to potential sponsors.

It also offers a plug-and-play e-commerce store where fans can purchase everything from bespoke, branded merchandise to personalised video and audio shout-outs. MatchKit.co plans to add insurtech and transactional / virtual card capabilities to their offering. Founders: Mike Sharman, Shaka Sisulu, Bryan Habana, and Ben Karpinski.

Dominique Collett, head of AlphaCode and a Rand Merchant Investments Holdings (RMI) executive commented, “We have been very impressed with the level of the drive of these ten startups who applied what they have learned on the AlphaCode Incubate programme as they focused on increased traction. The standard of these ideas gets better every year. It’s been a very intense time for the participants and we look forward to growing the four businesses.”

Almost 200 fintech businesses initially applied for AlphaCode’s Incubate programme which aims to grow innovative financial services entrepreneurs and find the next OUTsurance or Discovery. Only ten were then selected to complete in the initial three-month programme that provided funding, guidance from performance coaches and a panel of advisory experts, access to AlphaCode’s co-working space, and opportunities to apply for further early-stage investment.

The panel of judges included Willem Roos, former CEO of Rain and former founder of OUTsurance; Raymond Ndlovu, CEO of Community Investment Ventures with a stake in Vumatel; Dominique Collett, a fintech specialist and senior investment executive at RMI; Danie Matthee, the CEO of OUTsurance; and Mcebo Ntombela, investment manager at Royal Bafokeng Holdings.

“The panel had a good mix of entrepreneurs and corporate execs who understand the digital landscape,” explained Maseko.

One of the judges, Raymond Ndlovu, added, “The mix of businesses presenting this year was fascinating – a bit of everything from crypto to sports to stokvels and car repairs. The presentations were of a high standard taking into account the fact that we were all online. Look forward to the growth of all these promising businesses – whether they were selected for further incubation or not.”

The AlphaCode Incubate programme has disbursed R32 million in funding to 31 black-owned financial services businesses over the past five years and is viewed as South Africa’s most prestigious fintech startup initiative.

Read more: Hack the Normal winning innovators announced
Read more: FNB and Sage partnership enables SMEs to securely automate business accounting

Featured image: Winners of Alphacode Incubate (Supplied)

In addition, these startups will be able to apply for seed capital from AlphaCode’s fund that invests in early-stage startups.

Source: https://ventureburn.com/2021/05/alphacode-awards-r2-million-and-support-to-fintech-startups/

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Hack the Normal winning innovators announced

The Hack the Normal online hackathon has announced the winning innovations in each of the event’s categories for this year’s event.

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Hosted by Defy in partnership with ATÖLYE and supported by Defy’s sister company, Beko, Hack the Normal an online hackathon has announced the winning innovations.

The hackathon aimed to facilitate and showcase ideas for products and services that could improve life in Africa

Hack the Normal attracted over 1 000 applicants from 52 countries worldwide together with 294 mentors. From this, the hackathon selected several teams with product concepts in various stages of development.

Between 5 and 7 March, the teams worked on each of their ideas. During the hackathon, each contestant worked on several elements such as product prototyping and storytelling with the help of industry experts. The event also included keynote speakers and panel discussions.

“Our core goal is to improve the quality of life for all Africans: from our employees, to our loyal customers and to those who, like us, believe in the betterment of society, the environment and the continent, CEO of Defy Appliances, Evren Albas said in a statement.

Defy Hack the Normal (Supplied)Hack the Normal hackathon category winners

In the Sustainable Living category, the winner was the DSP – Biogas, a durable cooker that uses biogas to warm food items. Second place went to shoe-making initiative Shoeciety while Third Place went to the volunteer finding platform, Assistant Volunteer.

In the Financial Solutions category, product subscription model Africa Xaas took first place. In second place was Remit2Africa, a web solution that collects and compares remittances for people and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs). Third Place went to Boku, a blockchain platform for local businesses.

In the Healthy Living category, Industrio, a water transport solution for rural communities, took first place. Industrio was followed by food delivery service GreenGlow in second place followed by hospital patient feedback app Borafya in third.

First Place winners received a cash prize of $5 000. Second place winners received $3 000 and third place winners got $2 000.

The winning teams will also have the chance to work with Defy to further their projects. Defy will also provide promotional support and access to customers through their channels with the ultimate aim of incorporating the projects into the company’s ecosystem.

Read more: SMEs: Budget hacks to boost your business despite the pandemic
Read more: SA healthtech startup launches platform for African nurses

Feature image: Marvin Meyer via Unsplash

“Our core goal is to improve the quality of life for all Africans: from our employees, to our loyal customers and to those who, like us, believe in the betterment of society, the environment and the continent, CEO of Defy Appliances, Evren Albas said in a statement.

Source: https://ventureburn.com/2021/05/hack-the-normal-winning-innovators-announced/

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SMEs: Budget hacks to boost your business despite the pandemic –

Abraham shares his top hacks for small, medium, and micro-sized enterprises (SMMEs) that need support but don’t know where to start.

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The lockdowns during the pandemic have devastated SA’s small businesses, and many business owners find themselves looking for a few clever, cost-effective, and sure-fire hacks to ensure business growth during the Covid-19 digital economy.

Abraham shares his top hacks for small, medium, and micro-sized enterprises (SMMEs) that need support but don’t know where to start

According to Soul Abraham, Old Mutual Insure’s Chief Executive for Retail, businesses that managed to get back up following the devastation caused by the height of Covid-19 now need to focus on building and protecting their businesses to last.

“Many owners mistakenly believe that their businesses can only achieve growth if they invest more resources. This couldn’t be further from the truth. While it may seem like a challenging thing to do if you have limited resources, especially in light of having emerged from the initial lockdowns of the pandemic, the reality is that great businesses are started by people who do a lot with what they have,” says Abraham.

He adds that the issue of a lack of resources, whether it be people, capital, or time, are constraints that plague most small to medium business owners, but It needn’t be a reason to hold them back from success.

Below, Abraham shares his top hacks for small, medium, and micro-sized enterprises (SMMEs) that need support but don’t know where to start.

Hack #1: Take advantage of the opportunity in digital

One of the biggest challenges that SMMEs continue to face post the height of Covid-19 is effectively adapting to a new way of working in a digital age. From Zoom meetings and doing business over the phone to closing deals on email and managing employees remotely, the pandemic accelerated the digital move.

“We view digital as the lifeline needed to re-ignite the small business sector, so small businesses must upskill themselves and take advantage of this opportunity.”

Abraham says that if you do not offer your customers an opportunity to interact online, you could be missing out on sales. This could include building a website, which can help you create space for inventory, attract new online customers, explain your offering in detail, and allow you to increase your business hours to 24/7.

“Consider the free tools at your disposal, like a business profile on Google, or free digital educational resources from Grow with Google.”

Hack #2: Create a solid social media presence

According to research, 60% of people say they discover new products on Instagram, so there is a perfect chance that you are missing out if you are not on social media.

“Having a social media presence that aligns to your brand is very powerful if you want to grow your business. Although it is a big responsibility, as it comes with risk if you do not manage it properly, you stand to gain if you make sure that you have an active business profile,” says Abraham, adding that whether it is LinkedIn, Facebook, or Instagram, all of these social media offerings have their purpose in the business world. You need to consider which channel works best for your industry and business aligned to your business strategy.

Hack #3: Collaborate (yes, for free) with others

One of the essential tools a business owner has is collaboration, says Abraham.

“Employees of businesses that collaborate with their customers, community and industry enjoy benefits like the opportunity of new learnings, the chance to expand their networks, a sense of belonging, improved innovation, shared expenses and increased sales,” says Abraham.

The first trick in getting this right, says Abraham, is to know what you can offer and know what you need in return.

“For example, you could offer your talents and ask for expertise in exchange. Two parties with different skills can solve a problem better together or can offer your customers something extra that they need,” says Abraham.

Hack #4: Be business-savvy with free resources

As simple as it sounds, if you are cash-strapped, you will need all of the support you can get for free.

“Although there are lots of free resources online, it gets tricky knowing which ones are going to offer you value in return for your time,” says Abraham. “In light of this, look for local resources that may be better adapted for the South African business climate or culture.”

He says it may be better to spend the time to find the right resources that will truly move the needle on your business’s risk and growth from reputable sources and partners.

“At the end of the day, to protect your business and ensure it withstands the challenging times we are in, using easily accessible and practical tools, resources, and support, can mean the difference between surviving or thriving during this economic downturn and digital age,” concludes Abraham.

Old Mutual Insure offers a free online business toolkit called the Business Growth Box – designed to effortlessly guide and empower small businesses to operate effectively and prosper in a digital age.

This article was written by Soul Abraham, Old Mutual Insure’s Chief Executive for Retail.

Featured image: Gene Gallin via Unsplash

He adds that the issue of a lack of resources, whether it be people, capital, or time, are constraints that plague most small to medium business owners, but It needn’t be a reason to hold them back from success.

Source: https://ventureburn.com/2021/05/smes-budget-hacks-to-boost-your-business-despite-the-pandemic/

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