A look at VasBox, the app that automates management for the small enterprise

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Zimbabwe is a country of entrepreneurs expressing their capitalist ambitions through vending and retailing. That’s just one way of highlighting the changes to the economy that have resulted in countless citizens turning to vending and small-scale retailing opportunities to earn an income.

In the midst of this macroeconomic structure, there are opportunities that can still be exploited by people willing to add value to these small scale entrepreneurs.

Gedion Moyo, a developer who’s made a name for himself locally with a number of solutions is out to do that with VasBox.

This is an application designed to provide small business owners with a solution to manage their businesses via mobile devices. Business owners can remotely keep track of core elements of their business through an Android app that handles stock control and cashflow analysis.

You can download the app on Google Play or you can find a link to the apk on the VasBox website

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VasBox provides daily reports on important aspects of the small enterprise such as deliveries and sales while also producing daily, weekly and monthly profitability reports. The app also provides SMS alerts for sales targets achieved and exceeded.

Solving a problem for the small guys

Vendors-Harare

According to Moyo, the development of VasBox was inspired by mushrooming small scale businesses that haven’t gone the extra mile to find software solutions that can help them with basic accounting and business monitoring.

A huge reason behind this apathy is the absence of solutions that can cater for micro enterprises with the right sort of prices and limited demands for accompanying hardware. Most Off The Shelf solutions for small to medium scale enterprises (SMEs) don’t always cater for the ambitious vendor or cross-border trader.

VasBox presents itself as a more accessible solution by virtue of it being an Android app can be accessed from the majority of mobile devices in Zimbabwe. It also has monthly premiums of $1, $3, $5 and $10 that cater for varying sizes of small businesses but are ultimately priced with small scale enterprises in mind.

Some of the aspects of VasBox have been developed through consultation with small scale enterprises who, according to Moyo, have been providing feedback that has powered the continued improvements being made on the app. Moyo says,

Initially, I had positioned it as just a stock-taking app, but on meeting first few micro entities, I realised most of them don’t have any sort of accounting system, so I introduced the QuickBooks dimension.

If you interview one or two flea market owners or such other small entities, or small bars, you will quickly realize that they are managing everything from their heads.

VasBox is still undergoing some improvements with a goal to make the system even simpler to use.  To do this, there has been consultation with small businesses and these engagements have involved taking the business owners through the app, something that helps the developers learn how to tweak elements of VasBox to make it more intuitive while passing on knowledge on how the app itself works.

One huge improvement that is in the works is the integration of mobile money services to the accounting feature of VasBox, a change that should help assign a banking function to the app especially since mobile money has been identified as a leading contributor to the movement of funds in the informal sector and among micro-enterprises.

17 Comments

  1. ICT Counsel says:

    Well done Gideon. Long overdue intervention. My observation with most of these apps is that there is a dangerous but prevalent assumption that all small businesses sell goods. I am a small service provider myself and would gladly pay for this app given its cost but sadly I have no stock to count or sell except my time and expertise. May I suggest a module on services as well so that it caters for all small scale enterprises even those that are not into FMCG. A good start noetheless.

    1. Gedion Moyo says:

      Thanks Counsel for the Great Observation and useful feedback, much appreciated. The Services for Modules is coming soon. Thanks so much!

      1. Gedion Moyo says:

        ****The Module for Services*** 🙂

  2. Lee masuka says:

    Thank you Gedion. VasBox will definitely help the small scale business persons out there. I am one of them. I am seeing a small tuckshop selling Maputi, Airtime, ZESA, Bananas managing their stock and sales from this. I am interested in knowing how you will making users pay the monthly subscriptions. Also am a bit worried on stolen phones, sold phones, or when users wipe data. Is there like a backup or archiving for the same

    1. Gedion Moyo says:

      Hie Lee,

      Thanks homeboy for the feedback 🙂 On payments, after the 3 months trial, people will be able to pay using mobile money, bank credit cards or through paypal. More channels will be added later as demand arises.

      On stolen phones, VasBox app syncs and backs up everything in the cloud, so its only a matter of you logging in, on another phone and all your data will be as if you never lost your phone 🙂

      Thank you again for the feedback, its still in Beta so this kind of feedback is much appreciated

      1. Lee Masuka says:

        Great thinking indeed home-boy. I am testing VasBox and will keep using it of course. You can partner with the likes of Gtel for quick distribution of the app. (Just thinking how you thought of the name- is it a Value Added Box? lol)

        1. Gedion Moyo says:

          You are on point bro. You know how it is these days, everyone is operating their own form of “Value Added Services.” As long as you are doing a project or service that adds value to your life somehow, that’s your VAS.

          When you think of it that way, VasBox is then just an attempt to capture and manage your Value Added Services.

          So we got no vendors anymore, only VAS Operators!!

  3. Enock says:

    Great solution indeed. I had been talking with some of my developer friends just a few days ago about such a thing and seeing one is bigups to u. The SME’s sector has been greatly neglected on tech solutions yet its an industry that I know will bring much money. Proper strategies to this will make it one successful product in Zimbabwe.

  4. Jonah Moyo says:

    Sounds good. For $1 a month sounds like a good deal for Quickbooks. I am interested in the Quickbooks side of it. Does Vasbox come with Quickbooks as a package or does Vasbox provide an API for Quickbooks, how is it connected with Quickbooks?

    1. Gedion Moyo says:

      Its not connected to QuickBooks, NOT AT ALL. But it hopes to do to micro-entreprises what QuickBooks does to other enterprises. Its still in Beta so expect a lot of updates and all feedback will be much appreciated.

  5. Gedion Moyo says:

    Its not connected to QuickBooks, NOT AT ALL. But it hopes to do to micro-entreprises what QuickBooks does to other enterprises. Its still in Beta so expect a lot of updates and all feedback will be much appreciated.

  6. ch ris mb eri says:

    Awesome Gedion. I use Quickbooks online a lot and would much appreciate a local service provider once your package is stable

  7. Anonymous says:

    Congrats, Gedion.

  8. Khayelihle Tshuma says:

    Well done mate to finding a local solution to a problem affecting many if our micro scale brethren. May the app continue to mature and hopefully provide a few jobs in our country.

  9. specialist says:

    Nice app but penetrating the Zim market with this offering is not easy. Most SMEs in Zim do not care about Accountability they are interested in fast cash sales anything else it’s an uphill task. I was once involved in something like this. Maybe if you take it to Zimra they can make it compulsory modya mese zvakaita vemafiscal devices.it’s business u never know, but be prepared to work very hard.

  10. Technocrat says:

    I strongly believe that every problem we have in the Zimbabwean economy is somehow, directly or indirectly, a technology problem. It’s refreshing to see such innovation AND execution. Wishing you all the best Gideon, this could be huge.

  11. Padam says:

    Hi Moyo,
    A micro enterprise development program in Nepal is also in need of such apps. there are more than 75,000 micro-entrepreneurs- many of them could benefit from such apps. Pls let us know if this apps is applicable globally.

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