50 Most Admired Companies of the Year 2020
The Silicon Review
“Our platform is available in a variety of local languages making it simple to onboard new entrepreneurs so they can grow at the scale of their ambition.”
The size of a business shouldn’t limit its potential. Yet many are being held back by factors beyond their control: distance to markets, societal pressures, and access to affordable capital. Accloud breaks those barriers by mobilizing business management, with a breakthrough, low-touch commerce platform. For the first time, entrepreneurs can find capital, trading, accounting, and tax solutions, in one, easy-to-use system. By giving them the tools to grow, the company is making the small, mighty.
Accloud was incorporated in 2015 and is headquartered in London, UK.
Ross R James, Accloud CEO, spoke exclusively to The Silicon Review. Below is an excerpt.
Q. Digital transformation must provide a competitive edge to the customers. How do you gain insights to keep your clients ahead of the curve?
Our hub, Accloud, is targeted toward the developing nations and growth economies where we can have the largest impact on the lives of the greatest number of people. They are disenfranchised in their access to services that a small portion of the world takes for granted: health and education primarily; but access to opportunity is the underpinning value we need to change.
By giving people the right tools, we can simplify trading, share access to capital, and lift communities from poverty to prosperity. Uniquely, we are putting all these tools in one place and into the hands of small, mighty entrepreneurs. That means more opportunity for growth, greater financial inclusion, and the chance to truly transform economies and lives.
Q. Targeted attacks, compromised infrastructure, and cloud computing are the three top risks for clients. How do you address these challenges with your solution?
We see capital as the major issue of recovering from the pandemic.
We are currently working with advisers in the UK to set up two MSME Corona Virus Bounceback Bonds. Given that banks in Europe either have or are moving towards negative interest rates, I think there
is tremendous opportunity to raise capital at very reasonable rates for deployment across Africa and India. Through Accloud, we also have the opportunity to connect these small businesses to potential new customers.
We want to rethink the old ways of doing business, use our technology to get capital into the hands of those who need it, and turn it into positive economic growth. MSMEs have a key role to play in the recovery, and we’re here to support them.
Q. How Accloud’s platform empowers micro-SMEs in high growth economies?
Even within a market like India, the maturity in financial services and technology is very disparate. The opportunities to create positive change are abundant: millions of people don’t have access to quality business software at affordable prices, which Accloud can provide.
With our platform, people can also trade far more competitively. We’ve enabled practices and techniques that were previously not available and allowed millions of MSMEs to professionalize their offerings. That opens up a new world of business to so many people, driving better returns and lowering investment costs while raising standards for their partners and customers.
With many growth economies leap-frogging into mobile technology, smart mobile devices can close the opportunity gap. Such economies are not weighed down with legacy telcos and old ways of communicating. The mobile phone is second nature and often used in more advanced ways than more developed economies. Through it, we can reach almost anywhere in the world and provide game-changing services.
Q. What was the thought process behind building Accloud PLC?
It started with the concept of utility computing, which later became the cloud. In moving applications and processes to the Cloud, I saw tremendous opportunities to build virtual communities.
In the same way that physical communities require many services, virtual communities have needs and requirements beyond their initial application. Having mobile access to the Cloud meant we could offer these services to many more people, especially the disenfranchised.
Accloud’s technology creates a far more even playing field. Whether you’re a small vegetable farmer or a multi-national vegetable producer, our platform enables anyone – with a smartphone and internet connection – to access similar tools and resources. That’s how we start to close the opportunity gap.
Q. What are the milestones you set for Accloud during its inception? How much of it have you achieved?
Our biggest milestone is still ahead of us. We’re going to completely change access to capital for MSMEs, in a way that reflects our vision and the needs of small mighty entrepreneurs across developing economies.
We will start that transformation with longer-term micro-loans that are much more aligned to the needs of these businesses. At the moment, MSMEs are forced to take small loans over a very short duration and at excessive interest rates. Loan periods are generally just a few months and interest rates can range from 18to 38 percent.
No business can hope to grow under these conditions. We will level the playing field and allow these incredible entrepreneurs to grow at the scale of their ambition.
Q. How are you mobilizing business management, with a breakthrough, low-touch commerce platform? How can entrepreneurs find capital, trading, accounting, and tax solutions, in one, easy-to-use system?
That sums up the Accloud platform in one sentence. At present many of those solutions are sold as separate products. They’re often not mobile-friendly or simply not available to rural entrepreneurs. Our focus is on building a mobile-first offering that provides the business owner with everything they need in one place. We’re bringing tools that are normally only available to large corporates and putting them in the palms of these small mighty entrepreneurs.
We also address one of the major, overlooked challenges: language. Our platform is available in a variety of local languages making it simple to onboard new entrepreneurs so they can grow at the scale of their ambition.
I am grateful that we are included in the top ‘50 Admired Companies of 2020’ by Industry. But this is a journey not about me, but rather the desire to take part in helping a global shift in opportunity, for those in developing nations who have been locked out of opportunities we take for granted.
The challenge is enormous, but we have an outstanding team at Accloud that is both up to this challenge and dedicated and talented enough to fulfill this mission. I am very grateful for the on-going support of friends and family, and the continuous inspiration of my wife, Lina and her ability to help turn problems into opportunities.