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Alhaji Alimi Abdulfatai, Managing Director/CEO, Afabalim Mats Ventures, deals in children’s clothing and accessories at the popular Sheikh Abubakar Gumi Central Market in Kaduna, the Kaduna State capital. In this interview, he talks about his experience as a merchant using PaywithSpecta, submitting that his business is growing more and more following his introduction to the solution by his account officer.

As a business owner, what new processes or approaches did you adopt to survive the challenging business environment of 2020?

Last year was very difficult for our business as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. So, we hope things will be better this year. We are just starting the new year but the challenges we are encountering, needless to say, is certainly going to be similar to those of last year. At the moment, business is just fluctuating. The business environment is not really stable yet but so far so good, I am confident that this year will be better considering the way the customers are turning up.

Our customers don’t wait for their salaries again unlike before. We used to always look forward to the end of the month for sales to improve a little. Most of our customers are salary earners so they wait till the end of the month before they make purchases. Capital is one of our challenges and as you may well know, without capital, a business cannot thrive. But with Sterling Bank’s PaywithSpecta, we are sure that the business environment in 2021 will be better and less challenging.

Is PaywithSpecta one of those innovations that made a difference in your business in 2020?

Sure, I can tell you from my own perspective that when some customers come to purchase some items and they don’t have the full amount to pay, they are always surprised when we assure them that they shouldn’t worry because ‘someone’ will pay for them. Once we introduce PaywithSpecta to customers, they relax.

How did you know about PaywithSpecta and what has been your experience with the solution?

The first time I heard about it was on a WhatsApp platform and I have an account with Sterling Bank too. So, when I heard about PayWithSpecta, I called my account officer to explain what the solution is all about and my account officer promptly put me through. It didn’t take much time for me to get on board. My experience with PaywithSpecta has been a smooth one.

Once a customer says he does not have money and we assure him that he can pay with some little interest, he relaxes. People actually prefer the PaywithSpecta because of the low interest rate.

What products and services are you offering to PaywithSpecta customers?

We are into children’s wears and accessories, especially infants. Our business is unique. With or without hardship, man must procreate and if that happens, you must cloth the kids and that is where we come in. So, whenever our customers come, we introduce them to the PaywithSpecta solution and they are usually surprised about it. Once we got their attention to comfortably sit down, we talk them through PaywithSpecta.

How is the solution impacting on your business?

PaywithSpecta is really impacting on my customers. I took the message of PaywithSpecta to my children’s school where I met the proprietor and others to talk them into using PaywithSpecta and they accepted. I told them that parents can also pay school fees using PaywithSpecta.

I have met several customers on this. I have a family friend who is into phone business across the road. I informed him about PaywithSpecta and he quickly keyed into it. The speed with which PaywithSpecta is being adopted is even faster than what we expected. Now, wherever you go, tech savvy business people are all aware of PaywithSpecta.

Will you recommend PaywithSpecta to other merchants?

I have been doing that to my customers and friends even without being prompted by anyone. Even on my WhatsApp platform, I engage people, telling them all that I know about PaywithSpecta and how they can access it.

How are you creating awareness about it to your other customers?

Like I said earlier, I talked to my customers about the PaywithSpecta facility and they keyed into it. I also talked to the proprietor of my children’s school. I have been doing that since I was introduced to the PaywithSpecta facility.

What exciting opportunities are you looking at for 2021?

I discovered that PaywithSpecta helps me to make better sales than when customers buy with cash because, take for example, if a customer wants to purchase an item worth N5,000 and you inform him that he could pay any amount and pay the balance later, the customer will willingly pick more goods. So I am making more sales and profit.

By signing on with PaywithSpecta, my business is now growing more and more. I have a friend that is into office equipment and I know the volume of work he does is far more than mine. I took him to the bank and requested that he should be profiled. My advice to the bank is that they should not relent on this initiative so that they can remain on top. They should keep adding value to the solution in order to beat competitors. The bank has to be on its toes because other banks will also be rolling out some innovations too. They shouldn’t relax at all.

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