In early May 2017, South African small and medium enterprises (SMEs), start-ups and entrepreneurs were finally given access to business capital they’d not seen before, as Andrew Maren’s dream of helping them achieve their dreams became a reality.

Maren, the founder and CEO of ProfitShare Partners, had worked long and hard to find a solution to the lack of access to capital that had kept talented entrepreneurs and SMEs from achieving the springboard they deserved to be part of the South African business landscape.

Says Maren: “My PSP team and I were highly motivated to help other people reach and achieve their business dreams. We knew if we could help other people achieve their dreams our dreams would come true as well.

“Our biggest challenge was getting people to believe in us; and finding the right partners in all aspects of our business,” he says.

Explaining non-traditional funding

Both a entrepreneur and a banker himself, Maren knew that what he was proposing was so far removed from traditional funding or financial support, getting the buy-in of all stakeholders was never going to be easy.

“The idea was very well received from the start, and once people understood how we worked we got immediate acceptance from clients, but funders and Corporate South Africa were initially quite sceptical. It took my absolute conviction that the PSP model would work to convince the finance industry of it’s potential.”

It took some discussions to explain that the financing of a valid Purchase Order from a credible entity within the private or public sector could allow an SME the flexibility to pay suppliers upfront to fulfil orders before receiving payment from customers.

But once the win-win part of the model was clear to all, the small but mighty Fintech that is ProfitShare Partners was born.

Lessons learned along the way

Asked to highlight his most important lessons in running the company, Maren doesn’t hesitate: “Trust is more important than skills or a legal contract.” A glance at the successes of those who have participated in the PSP model that has seen their businesses rise to the point of creating jobs and becoming integrated into the economy is proof of Maren’s conviction.

“My greatest delight is when a client who could not raise capital before approaching PSP has been able to complete their first transaction, and they have made a profit on the transaction.

“That moment is the moment our client actually becomes a business. It is also the moment we count as our own success as a business, as an entity based on trust and motivation, and as a group of people whose core function is to be the driver of clients’ achievements.”   

Andrew Maren

So, as the Fintech celebrates seven years of meeting goals, will there be some expansion of its success? “Our technology is globally scalable and relevant and we are working on plans to scale our business globally,” says Maren. “Watch this space…”