Tech

How Kenya’s Zemo helps SMEs to better manage employee expenses

Zemo

Kenyan startup Zemo is a financial management solution for growing businesses that enables them to eliminate wasteful spending, tedious expense reports and employee out-of-pocket spend, as well as providing access to working capital loans. 

Formed in 2021 by CEO Davis Nyamari and CTO Solomon Maithya, Zemo enables employees to purchase items on behalf of a business while keeping business owners in full control with total visibility on all spending, all the while seamlessly connecting this to a company’s accounting software. 

“We are also planning to launch corporate Visa cards this year, allowing our business customers to frictionlessly issue cards to their employees for business spend,” Nyamari told Disrupt Africa.

Zemo was founded based on research that said one in two businesses launched in Africa ended up failing, partly due to lack of adequate accounting and tracking of business expenses, the cost of payment transactions, and lack of access to credit. 

“We offer businesses an all-inclusive payment platform where they make payments to M-Pesa, bank transfers, buy airtime and pay bills all in one platform. Additionally, we offer pre-qualified business loans enabling us disburse loans within 48 hours, while giving business add-on services such as a payroll and finance module to better manage and track their expenses,” said Nyamari.

Uptake has been decent, and since its soft launch in June 2022 Zemo has acquired over 60 businesses as customers, and has a gross transaction volume (GTV) nearing US$100,000. Zemo has raised funding from Aidi Ventures, GHC and GHC Capital, and also took part in the Startup Wise Guys accelerator. It is now planning on growth.

“We are currently in Kenya, with plans to expand in Uganda, Tanzania and Nigeria,” Nyamari said.

Zemo’s revenue model is based around subscriptions, transactional fees and interest from loans issued. 

“When we launch the Zemo corporate card, we will also get interchange fees – a percentage fee paid to us by Visa for every card transaction made,” said Nyamari.

Obtaining approval for that card was the toughest thing the business has yet done, he said, but now the future looks bright.

“Our biggest challenge was getting regulatory approval from the Central Bank of Kenya for issuance of Visa corporate cards, and working with tight finances forcing us to bootstrap our way into launching the product,” he said.