TechInAfrica – Colombia-based company Alegra has tapped into its first global expansion ever, with Africa as the first stop. The fintech startup chooses Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa to launch its cloud-based accounting software tailor-made for SMBs.
With more than 365 thousand registered users from 25 countries, Alegra has helped small businesses across Latin America in maintaining a simplified bookkeeping process. Now it is coming to Africa to cater to the small businesses with its localized version, which according to co-founder and CEO Jorge Soto are similar in its potential with the Latin American counterpart.
“There are a lot of similarities that we can address from the SMBs aspect,” Jorge says. “We were studying about Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, and we saw how economy-wise, they are similar to Latin America with the young people and a lot of SMBs, the government effort on formalizing the companies, and the tax system regulation to get everybody connected on the internet.
“So, we feel like if we have managed to solve the challenges in our home country, we can offer good solutions to SMBs in Africa based on our experience.”
The co-founders also see simplicity as the key to a streamlined product that eases the users.
“It is a very competitive market. Everywhere you go now, there are many software available for SMBs. But they are made for the accountants with advanced knowledge. We want to sell a product that is very easy to use so that even someone without any knowledge about accounting or basic bookkeeping can use our software. And that has been a big difference,” Jorge says.
Meanwhile, CTO and co-founder Santiago Villegas highlight the ease of use experience for the business managers, saying, “We have a 7 years path helping the Latin America micro, small and medium-sized enterprises by developing a very easy to use platform. Business managers do not need advanced knowledge in accounting to use Alegra. We make it intuitive and very easy to use for them so they can easily keep their business organized.”
According to Jorge, users can keep tabs of their invoices and expenses, create reports, inventory, and track their performance based on real-time information.
Using point-of-sale (POS) interface, the software allows users to keep on doing invoices in case of unstable or offline internet connection. It also brings frequent updates to improve user workflow.
“We release very fast. We keep releasing new features all the time. Right now, we have versions for these countries, but I can tell you that for nearly every two weeks, we are releasing something new in the cloud. Maybe new reports, a new way of doing things, that is easier, new configuration, new functionalities. That is one of the advantages of the cloud. You are always receiving new updates on the platform. It is very transparent and immediate for the user,” Jorge says.
As a SaaS (Software as a Service) software with a subscription model, interested SMBs or individuals can try the platform for 15 days before subscribing. It is integrated into other systems such as ERP, Zapier, and Data CRM among others while also accessible from any device with an internet connection. The user business information is hosted within Amazon’s specialized servers.
The startup, which has gone fully remote since three years ago, is part of the Endeavor high-impact entrepreneurship network since 2018 and has raised $66,000 from 147 investors in a crowdfunding project from the Colombian Stock Exchange on January 2020 for this expansion.
“We are pleased to have the support of the people through this crowdfunding project, in order to continue expanding Alegra to the world, our presence in Latin America and now in Africa will make this model continue to reach more entrepreneurs to strengthen their finances and help them to grow their businesses,” Jorge says.
“Going to Africa is like our big first venture outside the region. We are seeing it as a very big opportunity for us. I am hopeful that it is going to work very well.”