Startups must prioritise employees’ welfare to drive commitment, retention – Babatunde

Oparinde Babatunde is the director of special projects for Yellow Card. In this interview with Josephine Okojie, he spoke about the country’s entrepreneurship landscape and how Yellow Card is supporting small businesses with cross-border payments.

Despite a lot of funding available for entrepreneurship development in the country, why is it still difficult for small businesses to access most of these funds?

Some of the challenges and barriers that small businesses have when it comes to accessing funding include a lack of access or knowledge of the opportunities, insufficient skills or education, and a lack of experience in management. In addition, those who offer the funding might be very particular regarding the type of organisation they’re willing to fund.

What specific products does Yellow Card have to support MSMEs operators on the country scale?

Yellow Card’s products make the process of buying and selling products for MSMEs very easy. They can use the platform as a means to receive income for products and services, pay employees, and also pay suppliers.

Cross-border payment is still a big challenge for most MSMEs. How is Yellow Card helping small businesses in this regard?

With Yellow Card, MSMEs can seamlessly conduct cross-border payments across 16 countries where the Yellow Card is available.

How can Nigeria grow its entrepreneurship landscape?

There are several ways Nigeria can develop its entrepreneurial landscape. Public policies and private funding make it easier for entrepreneurs to acquire capital. Entrepreneurs must have the skills they need to thrive and promote education and training in entrepreneurship and company management. Through tax incentives and other government initiatives, support the growth of small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs).

Establish supporting legal frameworks for business owners, including expedited procedures for beginning and expanding enterprises. To encourage innovation and entrepreneurship, forge relationships between the public, private, and academic sectors. Access to technology and online infrastructure can help other firms and startups that are tech-driven expand.

Encourage business networking opportunities and mentorship programs so that entrepreneurs can exchange information and resources. Recognising and rewarding successful entrepreneurs, you can promote a culture of creativity and risk-taking.

The Central Bank has maintained a double-digit Monetary Policy Rate (MPR) for some time now, what impact is the CBN’s stance having on small businesses?

Small businesses may suffer as a result of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) decision to maintain a high Monetary Policy Rate (MPR). A high MPR makes borrowing money more expensive for firms, which might make it more difficult for them to invest in development and growth. Small firms that do not have access to as much capital as larger businesses may find it particularly difficult.

Small firms may have to cut back on their investments in new endeavours, machinery, and technology when borrowing prices are high, which might hinder their capacity to expand and compete. Furthermore, a decline in consumer spending brought on by high loan rates may impact small firms that depend on customer demand for their goods or services.

The value of the currency may decline as a result of high-interest rates, increasing the cost of imports and raw materials for small firms. Furthermore, since wages might not be able to keep up with the rising cost of living, high loan rates might make it difficult for small firms to hire and keep personnel.

Your organisation targets a unicorn status before the end of the year. Can you tell us more about it and how you intend to achieve it?

More customers in Nigeria and other countries in which we operate. With a rapidly expanding product line, consumers and businesses can do more and more with Yellow Card throughout the year. Our recent launch of Yellow Pay is just the beginning.

Expansion to additional African countries. In the coming years, Yellow Card projects an additional number of key raises. Reaching Unicorn status is a closer dream than 5 years. At the rate at which Yellow Card is growing, being valued at over $1 billion is a goal that is a stone’s throw away.

With the massive brain drain in today’s tech industry, what are the 3 main points you recommend to increase employee commitment and retention in startups today?

Richard Branson famously said, “Take care of your employees and they will take care of your business”. This is the first key point that startups must keep in mind for success. This could include, allowing your employees to take leave when they need to as well as recognizing employees for their work within the company. The second point would be to make sure that you have created a career development plan for staff.

This can include how you see them growing within the company and the opportunities that they can have or can work towards. The last is to provide all managers with the correct training. Leadership requires a very specific skill set and if leaders are not properly trained you risk losing staff or damaging your company’s reputation.

Read also: Omirin Aderinsola: Entrepreneur creating co-working space for start-ups

Where do you see the crypto market in 5 years? What is the vision of Yellow Card?

In the next five years, the crypto market will undoubtedly be flourishing across Africa. I see more countries adopting crypto or being more engaging with it. This in turn will have a positive impact on governments, regulatory bodies, and companies working together to establish progressive regulation policies.

Our vision for Yellow Card is to make it easy and affordable for anyone, anywhere in Africa to interact with the digital currency ecosystem, send and receive money, and control their finances. From a product perspective, Yellow Card would provide several products to suit the various needs of customers on different levels. We have already made incredible progress with the recent launch of our innovative payment solution, Yellow Pay.