Daring to squint your eyes in order to look at the sun and what lies beyond the sky simply defines an entrepreneur. They are thinkers, visionary and risk takers who taunt failure and dare to dream. These earthly gods have changed economies and made life easier with their ingenuity and creativity, the likes of Elon Mask, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Warren Buffet, Mark Zuckerberg and a few others continue to change the world with their creativity. Young entrepreneurs are altering the African narrative and Frank Hayford founder of SaveSmart is one of such fine gems. SaveSmart, a buildup on the traditional savings system and wallet for students is a financial technology company that seeks to encourage the savings culture in students. It provides a flexible and convenient savings structure that ensures that students self-manage their savings with much ease and privacy. I spoke to SaveSmart’s CEO, Frank Hayford to find out more about their services:
What is Savesmart?
SaveSmart is a Financial Technology Company that enables you to save at your own comfort and privacy. SaveSmart works by saving any amount at any time using our special scratch cards.
What do you do and who are the brains behind it?
As the name suggests we are into savings. A saving platform that understands the language of students. I guess you can’t go to the bank to save Ghc5 or even GHc10 but with SaveSmart you can save as low as Ghc2. I, Afia Odei, Andrew Opoku, Aboagye Dacosta and other team members are the brains behind Savesmart.
How long has SaveSmart been in existence and how did you manage to overcome the challenges you faced at the early state?
Savesmart has been in existence for about five months. I think what really helped us overcome our challenges was when we realized no other person can help us make SaveSmart progress other than ourselves. Those we relied on for support failed us so we had to raise the startup capital all by ourselves within the shortest possible time.
Who are SaveSmart’s target Market?
For now our services are targeted at Students in all tertiary institutions.
What inspired the formation of Savesmart?
Well, I realized there was a very huge gap between students and financial institutions. While in 3rd year I decided to save an amount equivalent to what I spent on airtime. I realized on the average every student spends a minimum of GHC10 on airtime. That might look small but at the end of the year you would be able to save a lot. But can you go to the bank in the name of saving GHC10? That sounds weird so the idea dawned on me to develop a student friendly system.
Tell us more about Savesmart services?
Savesmart is a platform that inculcates the spirit of savings and investments in students. At SaveSmart students save little and gain more at the end of their stay on campus. The money you saved is managed by Gold Coast Securities under GN Bank and therefore yields a handsome interest rate. It is the Ghana branch of the worldwide savings revolution. Savesmart also supports students who have implementable business plans with a seed capital. We also give educational loans to students who find it difficult to pay their fees.
How do clients get access to Savesmart services and how many people are signed onto your network as at now?
Clients can either register for a SaveSmart account or Login to his/her Savesmart account if already registered by visiting www.savesmartghana.com or by downloading our app. We have over 1000 students who have already signed up with SaveSmart.
How do you market your services?
We use several means in marketing SaveSmart. Social media advertisement, sharing of fliers, stickers and also partnering various programs organized on various campuses as sponsors in order to create our presence. But let me say significant number of clients came on board through recommendations from our users.
How is SaveSmart financed?
Savesmart is a Limited Liability Company and we have shareholders meaning financing is done by ourselves and other shareholders.
What makes Savesmart unique and distinct?
Savesmart is a smart, secured and assured way of saving money. Our system is the first of its kind in Ghana and we are the only Fintech Company in the country using this method. Savesmart enables you to save at your own comfort even by relaxing on your bed. You can save as low as GHc2. Your privacy is highly assured since you will be the only one know how much you are saving and what you have in your account.
How does the system work?
You visit www.savesmartghana.com to register. A registered member receives his account number and PIN in less than 12hours.
* All you need to do when you want to save is to use our app or visit www.savesmartghana.com and click on Login.
* You then Login with your Account Number and PIN
* Buy a SaveSmart scratch card equivalent to the amount you want to save at any of our agents on your campus (Including those who sell airtime).
* You upload the code on the scratch card unto your platform and click upload.
* You will receive a notification indicating the amount saved.
Why should I patronize your system?
Because it is secured, easy to use, fits your financial plan and most importantly inculcates the spirit of savings in you.
How many campuses are SaveSmart actively operational in and do you have plans of expanding to other market segments?
We are actively operational in two campuses at the moment. That is KNUST and K-Poly. Plans are underway to establish new branches at Legon, UCC, GIMPA, UPS etc in 2017.
What are Savesmart major challenges and how do you manage them?
I think our major challenge has been human capital. We are willing to employ proactive and hardworking people who are willing to work according to our terms and also people who see the future of SaveSmart in our lenses. And getting such people has been a difficult task. Most people who apply are either lazy or do not have the necessary skills to do the job. Also, because our system is one of its kind in the country prospective clients are not used to it and takes a lot of time in convincing them to get them on board.
What does the future hold for Savesmart?
We seek to make SaveSmart a household name among students and be the bank for students. Looking at the rate at which SaveSmart is progressing, we believe in the next five years every student will be a save smarter. We also project to be the leading face of Financial Technology in West Africa in the next 7 years.
What’s your take on high unemployment rate in Ghana and what could be the possible solution?
I think Unemployment is a threat to National Security and the only way to solve this is a Public Private Partnership. I think graduates should first of all know they are the architect of their own fortunes and misfortunes and should therefore think outside the box to create something for themselves. Our government should also be up and doing by providing an enabling environment which will make startups more sustainable such as the granting of tax holidays.
A word of advice to young entrepreneurs especially graduates.
All I can say is, no one can create the future you desire. Only you can. Dream big, believe in them and wake up to execute them. Sacrifice today for a better tomorrow and you shouldn’t forget to give back to society.