From left: Steven Cohen, Anton Van Heerden, Damilola Ajibade and Jeremy Waterman

By Kokumo Goodie, Lagos, Nigeria

Leading provider of business and human resource management software to companies in the small to upper mid-market, Sage Africa, over the weekend opened an office in Lagos, Nigeria, promising to replicate its success story in the country.

Speaking at a well-attended ceremony at the WheatBaker, Ikoyi, Lagos, over the weekend, the CEO of Sage Africa, Australia, Middle East and Asia (AAMEA), Ivan Epstein, said the firm is launching into the Nigerian market having been well established in other markets in Africa and other continents.

He said: “Sage is already an established brand with a strong presence in Africa and establishing another local office, in addition to the successful Kenyan operation, is an important step in our growth strategy and to enhance our global footprint."

According to him, the newly established office will support three product suites: Sage ERP, Sage HR Africa and Sage Pastel Accounting.

“Although each product has a very specific focus, ensuring for a diversified client-focused product map, the team will actively work together to ensure for an even stronger collective position on the continent,” Epstein said.

The African landscape typically comprises businesses that are no larger than upper mid-market in size as measured by global criteria, according to Jeremy Waterman, managing director of Sage ERP Africa.

“We have been selling and implementing Accpac (recently rebranded to Sage 300 ERP) into the English speaking parts of Africa for more than 25 years, and are currently doing business in more than 20 countries. Traditionally these companies had to choose between ERP solutions designed and priced for large global enterprises or solutions designed for smaller companies. The introduction of Sage ERP X3 into Africa provides a perfect fit for these larger mid-tier businesses.”

Sage Pastel Accounting’s focus in West Africa is on the small to medium sized (SME) market, through its flagship product, Sage Evolution.

The Standard Edition focuses on the small company and the Evolution Professional product range, which provides for more functionalities than the traditional accounting software, meets the needs of the medium sized businesses.

According to Rutendo Hwindingwi, divisional manager of Sage Pastel Accounting, the company is currently experiencing substantial growth in the West African region, fuelled by a number of large-scale ICT projects and significant offshore investment. He says that a local presence is critical for companies wanting to expand into Africa: “The local office will enable us to be closer to clients and reinforces our existing channel model.”

To further enhance its African growth strategy, Sage recently launched Sage HR Africa, a joint venture between Sage Pastel Payroll & HR and Sage VIP Payroll & HR. This new endeavour will cater for HR and payroll requirements across the continent regardless of the size of the business. 

Anton van Heerden, managing director for Sage VIP Payroll & HR and Sage Pastel Payroll & HR, says: “Sage remains at the forefront of HR and payroll legislative changes and will continue to provide the African market with legislative compliant software solutions in conjunction with government and local authorities. Local people will be employed at the new office.”

Van Heerden believes Africa is a significant growth opportunity for Sage HR Africa. "The quality of support and training of the team in Lagos will contribute in developing and enhancing the skills of local people," van Heerden concludes.

Epstein agrees and says that Sage has solid market share in South Africa and will continue to explore the many exciting business opportunities that exist in Africa: “There will always be challenges to overcome, such as high travel and operational costs, complex legislation, language barriers and local skills development, but the return on investment remains substantial. Key to investing in Africa is thorough research of the prospective market and I am confident that our team is prepared and will continue to offer our clients solutions that effectively address their specific needs.”

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