team apt

Supporting SME development in emerging markets

Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) play a critical role in the global economy. 

The World Bank has estimated 90% of businesses are classed as SMEs, representing more than 50% of employment worldwide. In emerging markets, formal SMEs contribute 40% to the national income and generate seven out of 10 jobs. The Bank has said SME development will be vital to absorb the growing global workforce. 

However, the sector continues to be largely underserved by the traditional banking system. The International Finance Corporation (IFC) has estimated around 40% of all SMEs in emerging markets have unmet financing needs. 

Felix Ike, CTO at TeamApt
Felix Ike, CTO at TeamApt

Felix Ike, CTO at TeamApt, explained that banks tend to ignore smaller businesses. 

“If you’re a very big business, your volumes will be quite high. That’s interesting for banks because the kind of money you’d be pulling in, in a day can cover the kind of money 100 smaller businesses can pull in in a day. It’s a lot easier to deal with them.”

“If you have those high volume businesses, maybe five or six of them, they bring in a lot of money, sometimes they don’t see the need to start worrying about smaller businesses because they are more stressful and bring in less money.”

Supporting SMEs could push Nigeria’s strong growth further

Based in London but founded in Nigeria, TeamApt has focused on the underserved market of SMEs, developing financial software to assist business owners in running their companies. While the software is also suitable for larger businesses, the underserved nature of the growing SME sector has proved to be an opportunity for the growth of the fintech. 

Ike explained that while the currency has been volatile, the Nigerian economy has grown, showing a lot of strength. According to the World Bank, growth is projected to average 3.2% over the next two years. “You can see the growth, regardless of the macro effects, were still growing, and the growth is somewhat offsetting that. Imagine if the currency was stable, growth could become really impressive.” 

“When you look at the market, you have over 40 million businesses in Nigeria. If you capture all of those businesses, that’s huge. No bank in Nigeria has 40 billion customers. So even if you have 20% of that, that’s really huge.”

According to PWC, Nigerian SMEs contribute 48% of the national GDP, 96% of businesses, and 84% of employment. Catering to the sector could be critical in pushing the growth of its economy. The report stated that “there still exists a “missing middle,” which finds it hard to access funds due to the category of funding they belong to.”

“Some of the smaller businesses have actually been ignored by the traditional banks,” said Ike. “We find them trying to run their businesses by combining multiple tools, something for payroll, something else for loans, and then if they need loans, it’s difficult for them to get them.” 

teamapt pos system
TeamApt’s POS system, Moniepoint, has become increasingly popular with businesses.

Simplicity and reliability have been key

The realization resulted in the development of an “all-encompassing suite” using automation and some AI to simplify the running of businesses. They have since developed additional products, including a POS system for bank transfers, targeting the 82% of business transactions that are transfer based. 

“What we’re doing is making sure that nobody’s left out. We built a product that works for large and small businesses so everybody could come on board.”

TeamApt has grown significantly, becoming the largest platform for POS transactions in the country and helping businesses process around $10 billion monthly. 

Ike attributes the application of simple but reliable financial technology to their popularity. “When we started..there were two key things they were looking for; reliability of the infrastructure and easy customer support. That was what they needed.” 

The company has expanded into other African nations and plans to address other emerging markets. 


  • Isabelle Castro Margaroli

    Isabelle is a journalist for Fintech Nexus News and leads the Fintech Coffee Break podcast.

    Isabelle's interest in fintech comes from a yearning to understand society's rapid digitalization and its potential, a topic she has often addressed during her academic pursuits and journalistic career.