An accounting app gives SMEs a shot in the arm
The EasyBooks Accounting software has won and received national as well as international awards and recognition and has been declared an ideal accounting package for small to medium-sized institutions
## Many small businesses continue to rely on manual record-keeping because software alternatives remain out of reach. That's all changing in Malawi thanks to a locally-developed software package and the entrepreneur behind it.
By Tiwonge Kampondeni, bird
In 2013, Samson Fiado, 30, sat attentively at a conference of young entrepreneurs in Blantyre. As the summit wore on and speaker after speaker took to the podium, there was one shared narrative: most entrepreneurs were losing thousands if not millions, due to poor financial management.
"I was in the second year of my university education – and 22-years-old then - and because of my interest in doing business, I attended the conference for entrepreneurs. I was stunned to hear that one of the organisers lost two million kwacha in the first four months of his business. To my dismay, this gentleman was a chartered accountant,” Fiado narrated.
The big take-home for the student with a burning ambition for innovation was that many small businesses had not embraced any form of bookkeeping software, or online app, to manage their business, largely because of high subscription costs.
Also hindering adoption was a lack of technical know-how to operate the accounting software already in the market, a situation compounded by the fact that most software options were not customisable for local conditions and accounting regulations.
Armed with the information he had gained that day, Fiado sought to develop an affordable and user-friendly application for Malawian businesses. His efforts gave rise to the EasyBooks Accounting software, which has recently struck a chord with a number of Malawian businesses - and gained global recognition. A Management Information Systems student at the time, Fiado was able to take advantage of his ability to develop bookkeeping software, largely since accounting courses were part of his curriculum.
“It was easy to understand accounting and break it down into its simplest form so that even someone who has no prior knowledge in accounting should be able to use the software. The first version was desktop-based in 2015, and it has undergone tremendous improvements for about five years,” he said.
In 2015 Fiado was short-listed for the Global Innovation through Science and Technology (GIST) competition, which culminated in the 6th Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) in Nairobi. The event was attended by former U.S President Barack Obama.
Then, in early 2021, Fiado founded software development startup EasyBooks Solutions, aimed at simplifying business operations through ICT innovations. One of the company's flagship products is the EasyBooks Accounting software, which the company markets as an app to improve accounting by "simplifying financial record keeping and reporting to small and medium-sized institutions".
“January 2021 was when I came back to my start-up full-time, with a hugely-improved product that can be used both online and offline. From January to date, we have been able to sell our software to 30-plus institutions and the demand is growing each day,” Fiado explained.
Meanwhile, his innovation has attracted the attention of several organisations, including Malawi's Small to Medium Enterprises Development Institute (SMEDI), which is now recommending the software to all SMEs nationwide.
Fiado said his company engaged SMEDI, which in turn recommended the accounting system to all the SMEs it deals with, because it simplifies the whole accounting concept for an SME. The relationship with SMEDI also is providing further opportunities.
“SMEDI plans to organise a training so that we can train SMEs on the importance of keeping their books clean and smart with EasyBooks,” Fiado said.
According to a FINCOP 2019 study, there are 1.3 million SMEs in Malawi and most of the entrepreneurs behind them are not able to take advantage of internationally-available accounting software.
“EasyBooks Accounting has been adjusted to suit Malawians. This initiative is sorting out the challenge of poor financial management,” explained SMEDI's Director of Business, Edward Chilima.
According to Chilima, EasyBooks Accounting simplifies life for small business owners thanks to the fact that it is tailor-made to suit Malawian entrepreneurs. The bookkeeping app provides fast and simple data entry, comprehensive and detailed financial reports, consolidated data, and automated record keeping. It also improves accuracy while increasing efficiency by eliminating repetitive and manual tasks.
One happy user of the EasyBooks accounting system is Chiku Machila, the managing Director of CHISAMA Holdings Limited.
“I find EasyBooks accounting system very good for small businesses, whether profit-making or not...it is very good for startups. We did not have an accounting system for two years but when we subscribed this year, our operations have been simplified. The system actually gives us automatically the cost of producing items.
"I love the reports mostly because they are simplified... We are now able to measure our performance daily, weekly and monthly so easily. The system can be understood with anyone with basic accounting knowledge, everything is simplified," he said.
The EasyBooks Accounting software has won and received national as well as international awards and recognition and has been declared an ideal accounting package for small to medium-sized institutions. Fiado was also asked to judge the 2021 Malawi ICT Innovations awards.