Ennota (Arabic for notebook) is a startup founded in Cairo in 2014 that is developing a cloud-based finance management tool for small and medium-sized companies in the Arab world.
Founder Mohamed Hamada, an Egyptian who grew up in the USA, conceived of the product after he saw how many growth opportunities companies miss out on when they do not have access to sufficient data. 90 per cent of SMEs in the MENA region use pen and paper to keep track of their business operations. Although Hamada's cousins, for example, who work in agriculture, roughly know the extent of their profits or losses from the last business year, they have no overview of which products, cultivation methods or sales channels have higher profit margins than others. Due to a lack of business intelligence, many companies drastically fail to maximise their potential, develop no relevant ideas for their own growth, and only have a small chance of receiving bank credit for preliminary financing. This waste, according to Hamada, drives him “crazy”.
The Ennota software – conceived as a responsive website and app for iPhone and Android – is specially designed for this target group and the Arabic-speaking market. It assumes that most users – from mechanics to farmers to retailers – are among the 35% of Egyptians that are smartphone owners, but that they have limited knowledge of computing and finance. Accordingly, the software adjusts itself to each user's level of knowledge. At the most basic level, users enter only their income and expenses; over time, more complex inputs and calculations are enabled. The various possible data analyses – according to time period, products, sales channels, etc. – are presented in graphics that are visually clear, which make informed strategic business decisions possible.
In the future, Ennota would still like to offer many more data applications, in aggregated but anonymous form. Whole industries could profit from such business intelligence – learn, for example, how high the average personnel costs of competitors are in comparison to their own, and how they could optimise theirs. Currently, a beta version of the software is being distributed for free, primarily via Facebook advertising – at 35%, the conversion rate is high. It remains to be seen whether this will stay the same once Ennota costs money.
We discovered this case through our Lab Around the World research trip.