OZÉ, Which Will Launch in March, Wins MIT $100k Contest

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OZÉ, a mobile app that aggregates and analyzes transaction data to push context-specific recommendations for small business owners in Africa, won the MIT $100K competition and the $10,000 grand prize.

While working in Africa, Meghan McCormick, who co-founded the company with Dave Emnett, realized that too many small businesses kept their data handwritten in notebooks, which made it difficult to obtain a loan from a bank.

OZÉ allows small business owners to log cash that comes in and out, whether that is taking a picture of a receipt or if the owner is paid with an actual item. The app also allows business owners to keep track of other transactions such as payment plans, which are common in Africa even for small items such a pair of sandals.

“OZÉ is simple tool that empowers small business owners across Africa to usher in a new golden era of economic development on the continent,” McCormick said during her presentation on Feb. 20.

After small business owners master the cash flow tools, the app then has budgeting and scenario planning, and eventually financial statement tools.

“We built OZÉ to teach you to use it as you you start using it,” said McCormick, adding that once businesses start hitting key performance indicators, OZÉ will start introducing them to investors.

The cost of the app is free for users, although they do have the option of paying $2 per month for a premium plan. The company is planning to make money by selling the data collected to third parties.

According to McCormick, the market for business analytics in Africa is close to $11 billion, and according to Gartner, nobody is currently targeting the market. Non-paying users can provide $42 of value throughout their lifetime, while premium users can provide $86 of value, she said.

The company has piloted the program with 26 users in Ghana, and the app will be available on March 1. OZÉ has also formed partnerships with organizations such as the National Board of Small Scale Industries, a government agency that partners with small to medium businesses.

The agency has 175 small business advisory centers throughout Ghana and is ready to roll OZÉ out in all of them. McCormick said the company would start in Ghana and then move to Nigeria, where one out of every five small businesses in Africa resides.

The MIT $100k Entrepreneurship Competition consists of one competition – three independent contests – from October through May. The competition is run as a series of distinct, increasingly intensive contests: pitch, accelerate and launch.

More than $300,000 in non-dilutive awards help these new ventures accelerate.

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