Intelligence to power business in Africa

Banking & Finance
| The European | 12 January 2021

By bridging the gap between MSMEs, investors and policymakers, String Analytics is set to become Africa’s go-to data management provider 

Founded in 2019 by Mugo Ngatia and Ndungu Muigua, String Analytics is a big data management and market intelligence company on the up. Based in Kenya, this dynamic startup helps organisations better understand data by providing tools for them to interact directly with their customers via a range of channels. As a result of String Analytics’ expertise, companies can enhance their understanding of their customers and drive behaviour accordingly. 

String Analytics offers big data analytics as a service, providing solutions for data management and visualisation, as well as predictive analytics and credit scoring. Its communications engine can be used to interact directly with customers to deliver knowledge-based content, provide product education or conduct market-based surveys, while its dedicated research team can conduct primary data collection.

The company’s approach goes beyond wholesale reliance on quantitative methods, rather it formulates strategies for companies to better understand their data by incorporating qualitative insight from direct market responses. This feedback is then used to drive the quantitative models for better results.

String Analytics’ aim is to stimulate economic growth in Africa by powering access to finance and informed decision-making though the provision of data driven solutions. The company aims to spur growth in the MSME sector by creating solutions that leverage on alternative data from different non-traditional sources.  

Helping MSMEs grow
MSMEs are key drivers of economic activity across all sectors in Africa, from agriculture to ICT, with over 70% of Africans working for this category of company. African entrepreneurs and their small businesses are vital to the continent’s manufacturing base and its drive to kick-start large-scale industrialisation. 

However, one major challenge MSMEs face is a lack of finance, which hinders the establishment and growth potential of businesses. Lenders are reluctant to provide the necessary finance, as analytic data for decision-making is limited; also, many of the MSMEs are unregistered and operating informally. Other challenges faced by MSMEs include poor cash flows and lack of technical expertise.

In Kenya, MSMEs employ about 80% of the country’s workforce contributing to between 30-40% of the GDP. With a huge proportion (about 78%) of MSMEs unregistered, access to finance remains a big challenge with a huge proportion coming from individual savings, family, or personal loans, which come with high interest rates. Problems regarding access to finance are further exacerbated by the fact that most investment and support is channelled towards the MSME agricultural sector, with the non-agricultural sector hugely underserved.

String Analytics intends to bridge the gap between corporates, potential investors, financiers, policymakers and MSMEs by providing real-time data for decision-making through its traditional and digital data collection solutions. It is in the process of forming an MSME database to provide segmented market intelligence that can be used to streamline business activity and spur their growth. String Analytics’ vision is to position itself as the go-to company in Africa for this very specialised service.   

String Analytics offers unique data-driven solutions that cut across diverse industries and countries across the continent. The company’s services will help not only grow the MSME sector in Kenya and Africa, but also to assist entities looking to invest, expand, understand unique industry dynamics, or introduce new products across the continents various markets. 

Company co-founder Mugo Ngatia sums up the specialist areas: “Our credit scoring solution is robust and can generate credit scores based on alternative and traditional data provided by different institutions and across different data sources. The scoring engine can handle large amounts of data and can be configured to run in real-time/daily/monthly depending on the frequency of receipt of the underlying data via our machine learning algorithms. 

“On the other hand, our market intelligence solution is powered by the ability to collect data directly from customers via mobile phone channels such as USSD and SMS, as well as using our pool of enumerators across the continent to collect data face to face (powered by apps over mobile devices) or through telephone interviews. We are also expert moderators who conduct focus group discussions, one-on-one interviews and ethnographic interviews through the use of traditional and digital channels.” 

Just over a year into its operation, String Analytics has two clients in Kenya – one of which is a leading credit bureau and the other a payments platform. Both partnerships are at the
proof of concept stage, but Ngatia said the company sees wide demand across the continent for services like this. 

Self-funded and only piloting in Kenya for now, String Analytics is keen to expand to the rest of Africa and to drive its goal of uplifting MSMEs across the continent, especially during the Covid-19 crisis where most businesses have reduced access to credit due to restrictions by traditional lenders. The company is also keen on improving its customised solution on credit scoring, data management and market intelligence as it looks to scale across the region.

In reaction to its expansion goals, the company is in the process of signing an agreement with a Nigerian entity for business development opportunities in Nigeria and Ghana. Though pre-revenue, the startup plans to monetise through consulting and licensing fees. ν

Further information 

www.string-analytics.com

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