App enters payroll processing market for small businesses


Peter Muchemi, chief executive of Megashift. PHOTO | POOL

Weeks before Covid-19 struck, Peter Muchemi introduced a cloud-based payroll and human resource software for small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

He had noticed that the SMEs were struggling with manual payroll on paper and Excel sheets, which was expensive, time-consuming and could not be operated remotely.

His innovation, dubbed Crew HR, allows the processing of payrolls remotely and generates net pay reports compatible with their respective banks.

“In addition, the software allows employees to log in and apply for leave, meaning that employers can manage their staff better,” says Mr Muchemi, the chief executive of Megashift Technologies, a local tech startup.

Employees are also able to log in and download their payslips and request working tools from the person handling staff matters at the SMEs.

Crew HR covers the whole employee lifecycle from shortlisting to onboarding, management of employees — payroll, data, leave/time off etc — and finally offboarding.

The system can cut operational costs by automating repetitive tasks, which also saves time, allowing the SMEs to focus on core business, handle employee retention and boost productivity, growing revenues.

Other automated payroll solutions available in the market offer one-off software installed on the client’s laptops or company servers.

This, Mr Muchemi says, is a big risk since a laptop may be stolen or physical servers could be compromised leading to loss of data.

To address the safety concerns, Crew HR’s data is hosted at the Amazon cloud servers.

“Crew HR uses the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocol, which ensures the data that is transferred between a client and a server remains private,” says the software engineer who studied at Chuka University in Meru.

The value proposition for Crew HR is that it is localised to fit the local market, making it more affordable for SMEs.

Global players offering similar services charge for customisation, implementation and perks for consultants.

To be onboarded into the Crew HR system, the SMEs provide company name, contact person and number of employees, which determine the service charge.

The customer is trained in managing and running their payroll on the system charges occasionally dropping to as little as Sh1,000 a month.

While the SMEs with between one and 100 employees were the original target customers, Megashift has since roped in several bigger firms with higher staff numbers. For these, charges are package-based and pegged on staff numbers given the volume of work to be handled.

According to the Kenya Association of Manufacturers micro, small and medium enterprises contribute 85 percent of employment and 25 percent to Kenya’s gross domestic product.

Mr Muchemi divulges that the biggest challenge has been marketing the product to SMEs due to data security concerns. However, the startup so far serves more than 100 SMEs and targets to hit the 1,000 mark by the end of this year.

Raising capital to scale the business is also a challenge. The firm aims to raise Sh15 million for expansion.

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