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Q3 2023 - (released November 2023)

SA's quarterly Private Equity & Venture Capital magazine

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A tech revolution securing South Africa's township businesses

by Michael Avery

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In a groundbreaking move, over 18,000 small businesses and spaza shops in South African townships are gaining access to vital security, medical and business insurance services, all at no cost.

This transformative initiative is the result of a collaboration between two high-impact tech pioneers – Hello Pay and AURA. Hello Pay, an arm of the Hello Group, known for providing digital payment solutions to small enterprises and spaza shops, is integrating business insurance and emergency response services from AURA into its premium service, benefiting its extensive clientele.


With an estimated 200,000 spaza shops and numerous small enterprises spread across South Africa, especially in the often-neglected township areas, the potential to extend these services is enormous. 

AURA’s innovative platform equips users with panic buttons for emergencies. When activated, this service swiftly connects them to verified local emergency services, ensuring safety for both business owners and their customers, while fostering a more secure community environment.


The process kicks in when a business owner presses their panic button during an emergency. Almost instantly, vetted security and medical responders on AURA’s platform are dispatched, linked to a network of 6,500 armed response vehicles. 
Moosa Manjra, CEO of Hello Group, adds that Hello Pay offers small businesses and spazas a means to accept digital payments. 

“Beyond the obvious security advantage of digital transactions, we recognise the paramount importance of personal safety for these operators,” says Manjra. “This is why we decided to incorporate AURA’s armed response panic service and a basic business insurance cover, shielding our customers from both physical and economic risks.


“Our aim is to ensure that if our customers ever feel threatened, a simple button press brings help within minutes. Additionally, they are also safeguarded against any riot or looting event through the embedded business cover provided by Hello Pay, which includes SASRIA insurance for such incidents.”

Warren Myers, founder of AURA, affirms that AURA has made emergency response services for township businesses more accessible, cost-effective, and efficient than ever before. 


“We are resolute in making these services available in every township and informal settlement across the nation,” says Myers. “With an average response time of about eight minutes for emergency security and medical services, we’re faster than most police responses globally.”


A spaza shop owner in KwaZulu-Natal attests to the life-altering impact of AURA's emergency response service, now allowing him to operate his business with a newfound sense of safety. Previously without any security measures, he was repeatedly targeted. Now, potential threats steer clear, knowing he can summon private security at the push of a button.


In a separate incident, a township-based business specialising in mobile phones, electronics, furniture, and repairs fell victim to looting in the Western Cape. The owner recounts the loss of everything, including store counters. Thanks to business insurance provided by Hello Pay, he faces no financial losses, ensuring peace of mind in case of unforeseen events. 


Both Hello Pay and AURA are key players in the Endeavor SA network, a collective of high-impact entrepreneurs and start-ups driving innovation in fintech, healthtech, edtech and marketplaces, by addressing tangible challenges faced on the ground.


Manjra acknowledges that their introduction to AURA through Endeavor was a pivotal moment. “We knew it made sense to help keep our customers safe. We are able to give people economic and personal safety with access to services in places where there simply isn’t enough.”


Initially, Hello Pay extended the service to clients who opted in, but it is now seamlessly integrated for all Hello Pay device users. Ensuring the safety of small business owners has a ripple effect on the economy, as security concerns often impede business operations and deter potential customers.


Alison Collier, CEO of Endeavor SA, hails this partnership as a significant socio-economic stride, addressing a critical challenge within the township economy, while also nurturing entrepreneurial potential, thus bolstering economic growth and resilience.


“Our primary aim at Endeavor SA is to support companies that use technology to provide affordable solutions to on-the-ground problems in townships and areas with limited resources,” says Collier. “Companies like Hello Pay and AURA are managing to do this commercially, backed by private capital, to positively impact thousands of lives.”

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