Q&A: Kenyan Accounting Software Firm Builds App For Startups

Written by Kevin Mwanza

Many startup entrepreneurs in Africa struggle to find an inexpensive accounting application that doesn’t take their focus away from their daily grind. With their limited resource they are unlikely to afford an in-house accountant too.

In Kenya, as many other parts of the continent, small business owners treat accounting as one of their very last concerns when they get started. This is an opportunity the team at Uhasibu, a Kenyan tech firm that focuses on developing cloud-based accounting systems that focus on local market systems, saw and sought to capitalize on with their latest application MiniERP.

MiniERP seeks to address a simple yet difficult challenge for small businesses – enabling them to streamline their business processes in an end-to-end manner without the high cost or hassles of doing so in a conventional manner.

Michael Pedersen, Uhasibu’s founder, spoke to AFKInsider about what MiniERP is all about.

AFKInsider: What is Mini-ERP all about?

Pedersen: MiniERP is a cloud based ERP solution, targeted specifically at retail based SME’s in East Africa. Most companies have a number of employees that are not financially trained, yet they perform actions every day that has a financial implication. Whenever you sell a product, whenever you purchase stock, whenever you give the manager some of the collected money. It all has a financial impact.

MiniERP addresses this “operational” side of running a business by providing a way to record all this information without requiring you to have financial training or knowing how to use a full accounting system.

The package includes a point of sale functionality where the customers can easily pay using Mpesa as it is integrated with Lipa Na Mpesa. In case the internet connection fails, the package is still accessible due to its offline capability. There is also an inbuilt debts and debtor management and commissions belonging to the employees are calculated automatically when they make a sale. These commissions are also registered in Uhasibu, where you can create and manage your payroll and bookkeeping automatically.

AFKInsider: Why the name MiniERP and not Uhasibu-Front office?

Pedersen: MiniERP is a separate product separate from Uhasibu, if you have both Uhasibu and MiniERP then the two systems will work really great together but you are not required to use Uhasibu as your accounting platform.
In other words MiniERP can be used independent of Uhasibu, hence it needed an independent name that signaled this.

MiniERP was chosen as this very clearly explains what the system is, it’s a management system for your small/mini enterprise (ERP), unlike “traditional” ERP systems MiniERP only has a few modules, specifically the modules that a small or medium business in Kenya would need.

AFKInsider: What is the cost to the user?

Pedersen: The first month’s usage is considered a “trial month” and is completely free. After the first month the base price is 1,000 shillings per month ($11.50) for the base system, and increases by 500 shillings for each till beyond one. Multi-month discounts are available, if you pay for 6 months you will get access for 7 months, if you pay for 10 months you will get access for 12 months.

AFKInsider: Does Mini-ERP have a mobile version?

Pedersen: A good question, we do not have a mobile version planned at the moment but as always we listen carefully to the requests of our customers and shape our development based on that feedback. Remember MiniERP is intended to be used in a retail setup, in conjunction with a dedicated “till”, and as such we imagine it being used on a fairly large/dedicated computer/screen (which could be a tablet).

AFKInsider: Since Mini-ERP is a simple data entry application can it be used alongside other accounting softwares?

Pedersen: It can definitely work with other accounting systems other than Uhasibu. If you are not using Uhasibu then the system will generate an “accounting-report”, this report will essentially contain a list of journal entries you must perform in your selected accounting package. If however you do use Uhasibu then there will be no need manually transfer the transactions/journal entries as they will automatically inserted into your Uhasibu installation – Digital workflow!

AFKInsider: How many clients do you expect to sign up on MiniERP in the first year?

Pedersen: Our experience from Uhasibu tells us that we should be careful with such estimations. That being said, we did build MiniERP based on a number of requests from our clients, and we do feel that it is easier to start using MiniERP than Uhasibu, so we have great expectations for the system. If you want numbers then we are aiming to get 100 businesses on the system by the end of the year.