SmartWage, a South African HR and communications technology startup has raised $2 million in a Seed funding round. The Seed funding round, which is said to have been oversubscribed, was raised to support SmartWage’s vision of transforming Afrika’s workforce through digital inclusion, particularly for frontline employees like cashiers, restaurant staff, and security personnel, and healthcare workers.

SmartWage's value proposition is that it offers its potential clients a way to digitize their most time-consuming HR processes.

“There is a communication gap. Frontline employees don’t feel part of a company’s brand and its promise. Payslips and leave are still done manually with paper printouts, while employee communication is done using notice boards or apps, which have huge usage drop-offs. Onboarding and disciplinary procedures are still paper-based, costing businesses precious time, money and resources," said Simon Ellis, CEO at SmartWage.

Financial wellness

SmartWages' product gives employees without e-mail addresses the ability to receive company-wide communication, access their payslips, request leave and get access to financial wellness products, all via WhatsApp.

With that said, SmwartWage says it’s not only about driving efficiencies for employers. The South African startup has also has developed a host of financial wellness products that give employees the financial lifeline they need. These include access to free financial education and on-demand pay.

“If we can save employers time and money through digitization, we can bridge the gap between South African enterprises and their frontline employees, helping enterprises connect clearly and dynamically with their employees, whilst offering financial wellness tools at the same time. By offering tools that benefit both employers and employees, we have a powerful value proposition," said Ellis.

Helping employees and employers

SmartWage was founded in May 2020 by Simon Ellis and Caroline van der Merwe. Van der Merwe, an expert in the field with almost a decade of experience managing employer benefit programs.

The Seed funding round was accessed via several influential investors. One of those investors is Idris Bello, founding partner of LoftyInc Capital, a pan-Afrikan VC fund headquartered in Nigeria, and an early investor in Flutterwave and Andela, two of Afrika’s tech unicorns. Other investors include Creator Collective Capital, Penrose Capital, along with angels from Naspers, Dimension Data, Investec, and Standard Bank.

SmartWage plans to deploy the capital to expand its product and technology team and double down on solving employers' biggest problems.

— By Tefo Mohapi

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