Start-up of the week: Swiver makes life easier for TPE artisans and managers in Tunisia
Swiver offers an online platform that provides real-time access to key business planning tasks in just a few clicks. A time saving that would include more widely artisans and TPE in the economic fabric of their country.
Manage payments, the customer portfolio or purchases to suppliers. These essential tasks can quickly become a nightmare for artisans and very small businesses (TPE). “Even the smallest craftsman must have an accountancy, write purchase orders, invoices. The platform is a very interesting tool for them and it could even encourage the most recalcitrant to report to the tax services, “says one to the Tunisian-European insurance and reinsurance company (Map), which is committed in September to disburse nearly 500 000 dinars (153 000 euros) for the first fundraising Swiver, a young Tunisian, which offers an integrated online solution adapted to these actors.
Created in 2016, the start-up has, for the time being, convinced 145 customers to subscribe to its paid offer. A drop of water compared to the country’s 70,000 VSE but Card executives are optimistic about the profitability of their investment, believing that “the market is there.”
If the service adapts so well to the needs of small entrepreneurs, it’s because it comes from one of them. The founder of Swiver, Azzam Soualmia, is neither a geek nor a graduate of a large business school, but an atypical self-made-man and hands-on. Malaysia, Algeria, Dubai: child, Azzam Soualmia was lugged in many countries at the mercy of moves of his parents, traders in the field of pastry.
Software integrating the applicable charges in Tunisia
At the age of 18, in 2008, he returned to settle in Tunisia with a bac, experience as an employee in the restaurant industry and a strong desire to work in sales. He began to work as a specialized agent in tour packages, then turned to real estate development in the tourist region of Sousse, 150 km south of Tunis.
Sure of his gift for sale, he buys a concrete mixer. His first profits will enable him to create in 2013 a workshop of homemade charcoal (now in the hands of his brother). Its customers are the main retail chains in Tunisia, Géant Casino, Monoprix and Magasin général, and it exports even in the Gulf and in Europe.
“At that time, with all my activities, I started to lose the north between the inflow and outflow of money. I then looked for an ERP solution [Enterprise Resource Planning, a resource planning solution for the company], but none took into account Tunisian standards, and they were expensive and complicated to use for a small business, “he said. recalls Azzam Soualmia. In 2015, a friend then proposes to make him a tailor-made software according to his criteria, including VAT, taxes and other withholding taxes applicable in Tunisia. Bingo. The then 25-year-old entrepreneur is convinced of the potential of the product and wants to market it. Prudent, his friend prefers to withdraw from the project.
Focus the market
To move on to the next phase, Azzam Soualmia sells her car and hires a new developer, Khalil Hamdi, who has since become the technical director of Swiver, to refine the solution. The company is born and the platform is put online. After only three months, 1,200 customers use the free trial version. But 45 barely pay the 600 dinars annual cost that the paid version, what Azzam Soualmia lives as a semi-failure. However, it is at this point that B @ Lab, the incubation program of the largest Tunisian bank, Biat, identifies the solution and contacts the entrepreneur to integrate his program.
“Azzam has an atypical path that traditional financing tools never take seriously,” said Noomane Fehri, B @ tLabs leader and former ICT minister. Me, it is this excellent seller with hardly the tray that attracted me. Two other points also marked me: the fact that its solution allows to bring back from the informal economy in the formal circuit, and that which proves that a start-up is not only innovation. There are no technological advances in Swiver. The novelty is in the process that creates the potentialities of a new market. ”
The solution is not in itself innovative: many international companies offer ERP offers. Only, these are mainly geared towards SMEs. Above all, they are inaccessible in Tunisia and in many African countries because of the impossibility of paying online in foreign currency. Swiver is therefore positioned as a virtually unique player in a high potential market. It is during the four-month incubator program that Azzam Soualmia understands that he needs to focus his market on small and very small businesses, and not on all companies, as he envisaged at the beginning. departure.
5,000 customers within two years
At B @ labs, Azzam Soualmia meets Hichem Radoine, formerly of the prestigious French business school HEC, with twenty years of experience in accounting and the new technology sector in France. The latter becomes the general director of Swiver. Azzam Soualmia has the wisdom to “hire his boss”, as he enjoys it today, for the sake of his baby.
With the arrival of B @ Labs and the Card, the shareholder structure of Swiver was turned upside down. The founder refuses to specify the sharing but ensures that he still holds the majority of shares. He will not be more talkative about the turnover of his company.
Within two years, the company expects to have 5,000 customers in its portfolio in Tunisia, but also in Algeria and Morocco. An improvement of the solution is in progress in which the customers will be able to indicate their country so that the corresponding tax rates and taxes are taken into account automatically.
Conquering French-speaking Africa
Francophone Africa is also targeted in a second time. Of nine employees currently, Swiver is expected to grow to 18 in 2019, including recruiting marketing profiles to prospect in African countries. “The planning needs of a carpenter are the same in Tunis or Bamako. Just have an internet connection and a screen, mobile, tablet or computer, to access Swiver, “says Aymen Jedey, account manager at the start-up.
While waiting for an international take-off, Tunisian customers are Swiver’s first advertising assets: “In one look, I have a real-time view of stocks, and as an import-export company, this question is crucial and alerts for upcoming payment due dates. Swiver saves us a lot of time which is used for more productive tasks “, says Noha Samoud, administrative and financial assistant at the import-export company I3C.