Who are the Small Merchants Who Make a Real Living Instead of Just Making Some Extra Money?

Certain behaviors can help providers unmask a business’ readiness for financing

Credit: Adam Wiseman

Credit: Adam Wiseman

Financial service providers should focus on a business’s readiness for financing when considering what type of financial services to offer. Michelle Hassan explains why it’s important to distinguish between two business types: side hustles and livelihoods. Learn what FSPs should look out for.  

What if We Offered Business Support to Small Merchants Over WhatsApp?

Micro-consulting to Provide MSMEs with Practical Advice

Photo Credit: John Won

Photo Credit: John Won

At FIBR, we’re interested in the promise of micro-consulting, a new way of offering practical advice and know-how to address the specific challenges and aspirations small merchants face through a digital messaging channel. These micro-consulting services can be used by small merchants when they need in small, discrete blocks of time. Through digital delivery, the service can be availed at lower cost and over a larger scale than traditional consulting services. Read our post on providing business support to small merchants over WhatsApp.

Making Business Work for Dukas

Understanding the Financial Health of Small Shops in Africa

Photo: Anne Gachoka

Photo: Anne Gachoka

Juma*, a small shop owner in Nairobi’s Kibera slum, is in a bind. Despite having run a business for the last five years, he is still unable to get a loan from a bank to grow his business to meet increasing customer demands and diversify his stock. Juma is locked out of the formal financial system. He is neither able to access digital loans because he is not smartphone-ready. His only remaining option is to source cash from friends. What next for Juma? Read our post on making business work for dukas

Hitting the Sweet Spot: What Do Small Merchants Need to Survive and Grow Their Business?

Photo Credit: John Won

Photo Credit: John Won

MSMEs (Micro, Small and Medium enterprises) need capital. They need startup capital, they need expansion capital and they also need working capital to manage their day-to-day operations. The small merchants in Africa that we’ve been researching at FIBR, these shopkeepers, need several types of financing to manage the ups and downs of a small and often informal, retail business. And yet, the offering between traditional and digital tech lenders is still missing the mark for the financial needs of merchants. How can we better design financial solutions that are relevant for the way small merchants manage their operations and finances to keep their business going and growing?

Join FIBR’s webinar and panel discussion on small merchants and what they need to succeed. The webinar covers our insights from designing and piloting a credit solution for merchants and our research on the financial ecosystems of merchants. Following, the panel discussion will help us explore the current challenges and realities that providers and investors face in closing the gap for MSME financing.

Meet the Speakers

Read Our MSME Blogs

Global SME Finance Forum November 2018


Date: 05 - 07 November

Location: Madrid, Spain

Under the theme “Reaching the Informal: the Role of Finance in Improving the Growth and Productivity of SMEs”,  the forum will explore how innovation in technology, regulation and partnerships can help overcome various informality problems, and open up a far larger market for profitable, sustainable, responsible financial services. 

Visiting a Merchant Shop in Kibera in VR


An Immersive Experience with Informal Retailers in Africa

Produced and Developed by: Abi Steinberg, Videographer and Director: Adam Wiseman

FIBR's first #VR video from the field, filmed in 360 degrees, provides a closer look into the lives of two informal retailers from Kibera in Nairobi, Kenya. This video invites you into their world, transporting you thousands of miles away and capturing their existence as lifelines in communities. These businesses provide critical products and services and are representative of thousands of small shops around Africa. Learn more