After witnessing the challenges SMEs face with long payment terms from large businesses, Thandeka Zondi founded MoneyWorks to address these issues. She spent time researching global finance models and instead of pursuing her master’s in strategy and innovation, decided to take a year off to explore this business idea. She has not looked back since.
When Thandeka Zondi, founder and CEO of MoneyWorks, completed her auditing articles, she knew she was better suited to find solutions to the challenges faced with access to finance rather than become a banker. Having been in the financial industry for 16 years, she is grateful for every role, which has helped pave the way for kickstarting her own business.
“Each role helped me better understand the environment so I could identify my niche.”
Thandeka describes starting a business as one of the scariest yet most rewarding journeys of her life. “Being an entrepreneur is not easy. You also become aware of the gender bias that exists when your journey leads to sectors that are mostly male dominated, such as fintech.”
“I was not sure how to move forward with my passion, so I set out to get a better understanding of the challenges from corporate, public sector and SME perspectives,” she continues.
“MoneyWorks was born as a result of witnessing these challenges. While part of a large corporate, I frequently had SMEs requesting to be paid earlier than the standard 30 days. It was only when I joined a medium-sized firm that I experienced first-hand the pressure on cashflow as a result of long payment terms.”
According to Thandeka, many SMEs have done the hard work of breaking into the supply chains of large businesses but find themselves unable to grow because of long payment terms – resulting in pressure on their cashflow. MoneyWorks, however, has revolutionised providing financial assistance to small businesses by shifting the onus for credit worthiness from small businesses to the corporates with whom they do business, without undermining the balance sheet of the corporates. The cost of the loan to the small business is less than 2% of the invoiced amount.
“The MoneyWorks solution means that once an SME has submitted their invoice and it has been approved as valid and payable by their customer [large business], they can tap into the early payment solution and get paid within 24 hours – and the large business will pay MoneyWorks according to the original payment terms. SMEs don’t have to apply to a bank for loans and/or encumber their assets. They become eligible for the programme by virtue of being a supplier to a large business,” she states.
Thandeka, like so many others, believes that SMEs are essential in building the future of South Africa’s economy. “SME growth equals job growth, which chips away at the unacceptably high unemployment rate in our country. Small businesses are more innovative and agile, which when nurtured and supported, can be a massive competitive lever for South Africa.” In fact, some of the most successful economies in the world are those that focus on growing SMEs.
It is this critical approach to business that earned MoneyWorks two prizes at the South African Innovation Summit of 2020: The Enygma Ventures scholarship to the start-up circles ignition programme and the ANZA Digital Tour. The Enygma Ventures scholarship is a R12 500 cash prize, while the ANZA Digital Tour will see MoneyWorks form part of a select contingent presenting their businesses to venture capitalists in Silicon Valley, California.
“From day one, we have strived to continually adapt until we could find the appropriate solution for the problem at hand. We have surrounded ourselves with experienced entrepreneurs with whom we continually engage to obtain feedback.”
Thandeka has enjoyed taking control of her future and finding a work-life balance that works. “My advice to aspiring female entrepreneurs… plan and plan again! It’s hard to be creative when you are worried about day to day personal expenses. Be very clear on what you want to achieve and find like-minded people who will support you emotionally and strategically as you build your business. Be clear on your non-negotiables.”
Follow Thandeka on Instagram: @thandekazondi
Author: Candice Landie