South African technology startup, SmartWage, won the VivaTech AfricArena competition, earning us a trip to VivaTech Paris in 2021, Europe’s biggest startup and tech event. SmartWage was one of three finalists, and the win solidified our position as the market leader for wage-access in South Africa. VivaTech 2021 will play host to over 3,300 investors from around the globe and counts Jack Ma (Alibaba Co-Founder), Satya Nadella (CEO of Microsoft) and Mark Zuckerberg (CEO & Founder of Facebook) as past speakers.
Founded in February 2020, SmartWage is South Africa’s most affordable and accessible wage-access software. The team are laser-focussed on making an impact, and aim to eradicate the poverty payday cycle by giving employees access to what they have earned in a responsible way. We have seen exceptional growth in a short space of time – not surprising when SmartWage is up to ten times cheaper than the alternative options available to employees.
In a post win interview, Simon Ellis, CEO and Co-founder of SmartWage, told AfricArena “We’re incredibly excited about the future for SmartWage – and we’re confident we have a product that the market in South Africa desperately needs. We have a 98% user retention rate, and we celebrate the fact that every time someone uses our product, it saves them the risk and cost of taking an expensive payday loan. This win has further validated our business model, and the impact we’ll make on millions of employees across the country”.
SmartWage has had an average of 72% month on month user growth since inception, and now has access to more than 50,000 employees across South Africa. We are currently raising our seed round of more than $1m, and we are looking to partner with innovative employers who have the welfare and financial health of their employees at heart.
The win at the AfricArena 2020 Startup Challenge comes just days after being nominated as one of 2020’s Most Influential African Startups. The list compiled by Platform Africa included innovative African startups including Flutterwave, Pineapple Insurance and Twiga Foods.
About VivaTech AfricArena:
VivaTech is the world’s rendezvous for startups and leaders to celebrate innovation. VivaTech breaks down the traditional barriers between grassroots innovators and global leaders. The challenge brief was to identify how your startup was innovative enough to impact the future of work. SmartWage was selected as a finalist because their product empowers users by leveraging technology to make the future of work better.