Magnus Nmonwu, regional director for Sage West Africa, has reiterated the Company’s resolve to give ‘voice’ to entrepreneurs in West Africa through its robust accounting software.
He made the remark during an interview with Nigeria CommunicationsWeek in Lagos recently, adding that Sage’s decision to offer its software at a rate as low as N4000 was aimed at assisting entrepreneurs in the West African market leverage opportunities in their environment.
Nmonwu, with more than 14 years’ experience in consulting for Multinational and National companies in the areas of Taxation, Payroll Administration and Business Compliance, presently focuses on business and sales development related activities; supporting the SSB, SMB and Enterprise team with a view to increase new customers acquisition in the region.
Before joining Sage, Nmonwu was the Unit Head of the IES, PAYE and Payroll Outsourcing group at KPMG Professional Services in Nigeria.
In this interview with Peter Oluka, he explained how Sage’s software can assist Entrepreneurs in the West African market leverage opportunities in their environment. Except.
As A Nigerian Leading Sage West Africa
I really don’t look at it as different. I worked at KPMG for 13 years. There, I also rose to the top having joined at the entry level.
So, working at Sage is a more or less continuing my carrier like in KPMG but in a bigger platform; so, I have a lot of responsibilities now. For the fact that I have so many people to report to in-country makes it a lot more interesting.
I tend to be accountable at all times in all my actions and decision-making processes. Therefore, it is an exciting opportunity to be part of the team leading the voice of entrepreneurs in this region.
How Sage Views Nigeria’s Business Climate in Period of Recession
The reality with recession in the country is that most organizations are looking to creating efficiencies in their systems. No business wants to close shop, all of a sudden.
That idea to entrench efficiency in the system comes with the opportunity to infuse certain solutions that can help create visibilities for the decision makers; enabling them to have information to make crucial business decisions even on the go.
For us at the Sage, I wouldn’t say we are not been hit by the recession, because we spend in the same market like every other person in the country.
But, in terms of Sage business, it has been as usual. Companies are still acquiring our software to ensure they can operator more efficient. They need those business tools to guide them and Sage is here to provide them with such solutions.
Sage’s Presence in Nigeria
Our team is recruited from the ‘local’ market. By virtue of our culture in Sage, anywhere our office is located we tend to recruit the nationals.
Our office in East Africa is led by a Kenyan. On how we leverage the environment, we also tend to get involved with events happening in our immediate environs.
Recently, we joined the Lagos State Chamber of Commerce and Industries (LCCI) technology forum. We publish informative and educating articles via the news media; we continue to contribute our thought leadership into the activities of businesses in our areas.
This cuts across areas we operate. We are also identifying individuals whom we, after training them, ‘push’ them to businesses to succeed. We have about three business partners who have adopted the skilled manpower we produce.
Areas of Focus in 2017
Cloud is one, because we found out some companies lack the financial capacity to get into an IT environment which requires servers, a team of IT personnel to help them drive the infrastructure. Cloud affords small businesses the opportunity to run IT management tool seamlessly.
With Sage cloud solutions they will remain update, or do not have to fear about legislations that necessitate change.
So, one of the things we are doing in terms of innovation is that we are working on software for account, but not necessarily for accountants only.
Like the Sage X3 you do necessarily need to have prerequisite training to use it. The user interface and the language are in simplified form. The flow chat allows easier navigation.
How Sage Reaches Out to SMEs, Others
Sage is actually doing a lot in the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) space. Sage is the market leader for integrated accounting, payroll and HR systems. Our heritage points to the fact Sage started as a small business too.
The couple started the business way back in Newcastle and it has transcended to having 14,000 employees operating in 23 countries.
We believe strongly that small business power world leading economies and there is no effort that any government puts with regards process, infrastructure or skill acquisition that is a waste. Sage has a solution meant for SMEs segment in the market.
It is the cheapest account solution anywhere in the world. In Nigeria it sells for as low as N4000. In the recent ICAN conference in Abuja (Nigeria), where over 4000 chartered accountants converged, the event was co-sponsored by Sage while Sage One accounting was the solution pitched at the event. You don’t need to be an accountant or requiring any IT infrastructure to use it; all you need is a device and connectivity.
Secondly, I do not agree that the only challenge of businesses is Finance. Finance is key, but that is not the basic.
There are certain businesses doing very well today, but started without much financing. The major problem with businesses is knowledge; in the sense that some SMEs do not even know how many people owe them and vice versa.
Building Smart Business Environment
I have been to Fidelity Bank’s SME programme and other relevant platforms, and the focus has been: the opportunities are out there, our people perish for lack of knowledge.
That is a Biblical quotation that translates to business environment today. If you know there is software you need to empower your business and enforce efficiency, why not go for it. So people waste man-hours, energy and resources on simply things that technology can easily do for you.
How can you pitch for a business in Badagry and your office is in Victoria Island; you want to commute to VI to process the documents, make order and deliver. Sage is saying ‘save your strength’.
With Sage smart technology in your palms, right from the entry to enterprise level solution you do not need to be at the office to use them. As long as you have internet, you can sit at Badagry there, place the order, check your inventory level, and even initiate delivery of the product, raise the invoice and print it.
You close the deal and pursue other ones on your way back to Victoria Island. So, we create opportunities for customers and businesses to do what they know how to do best. So, Sage tries to be the core solution to make businesses successful.
Our entry level solution is web-based and easy to use. Recently, we partnered with a bank to reach out to SMEs in Alaba Int’l market, (Lagos), Enugu and several other places; the aim has been the introduction of software to businesses.
Also in Ghana, we have written article concerning the elections, advising that whoever takes over should have two things.
Create policies and enabling environment to spur up businesses in Ghana. Secondly, the Government needs solutions to ensure accountability in State affairs.
Pirated Software and the Risks Involved
The reality is that in our environment we can’t completely eradicate software piracy. But, what we are hoping to achieve that we should be able to minimize it.
When people use software that is not authorized chances are your system can easily be hacked leading to data loss.
Even when there are changes in legislation you do not get the necessary update. Also, if you have problem today that requires legal intervention, you wouldn’t know who to sue.
Nigerians travel a lot and when they buy over the shelve software, bringing it into the country, they certainly operate for a while, but they are not meant for this environment. Our software is uniquely designed for Nigerian users; tailored for the environment.
Advice to Entrepreneurs
They should get their hands bus; do not disperse the little beginning. They can get self employment or sign up for internship programmee, hopefully for the first couple of months without pay.
But, we are assuming that when you do get in there and add value you will certainly be admitted. There are some government programmes out there to leverage on.
The reality is that at some point in everybody’s carrier, people tilt towards entrepreneurship. Those who have ideas can work meet those with necessary infrastructure as to raise funds.
Partnership is key too in setting up something. They can leverage our internship programme too where 45 people benefited this year. We are supporting them, but my comment is do not disperse the little beginning.