The Africa SMME Tech Report
The BIG5D Podcast
The BigFive Summit Speaker Series Episode 2: Ashmita Singh, Founder, SwapVend Afrika

The BigFive Summit Speaker Series Episode 2: Ashmita Singh, Founder, SwapVend Afrika

The Summit Speaker Series continues with a conversation on addressing Africa's informal business sector with social entrepreneur Ashmita Singh of SwapVend Afrika

This podcast series is sponsored by The 2024 BigFive Summit

Welcome to Episode 2 of the BigFive Summit Speaker Series. This is a series of podcasts featuring conversations about Africa’s tech scene, empowering SMEs with technology, entrepreneurship, leadership, startup life, and much more featuring the incredible thought leaders who will speak at the 2024 BigFive Summit, 19-20 March in Cape Town.

In Episode 2, we interview Ashmita Singh, a social entrepreneur who is the founder of SwapVend Afrika, a solution still in development that aims to bring Africa’s informal business sector online. She is also the Co-Managing Director, South Africa, for AMANDLA Social Enterprises.

A trained accountant, Singh was raised in Phoenix, a township near Durban. Ashmita has spent her professional life so far building multiple social enterprises aimed at helping informal businesses thrive.

The informal economy is a massive sector. South Africa (population 61 million) alone has an estimated 3.3 million “micro and informal businesses.” Providing these businesses with access to digital payments, credit, and SaaS tools to effectively operate their businesses through their mobile device, is an important emerging industry. A big component of this emerging industry’s success will come from the work of social enterprises and governments to provide digital skills training, improve infrastructure, and so on.

Our conversation with Ashmita focused largely on identifying the challenges facing informal businesses in Africa and talking about why technology must be part of the solution. We also talked about the various non-profits and social enterprises that Ashmita has launched or been involved with, including her latest venture, SwapVend Afrika.

Ashmita will join Miranda Perumal on stage at the upcoming BigFive Summit, 19-20 March in Cape Town to talk about increasing economic opportunities for Africa’s vast informal business sector.

Interview Excerpts

The following are a few edited excerpts from our conversation with Ashmita. Please listen to the podcast to experience the full interview.

On the importance of small business to economic growth in Africa.

We really need to focus on the small business. Everybody knows that small businesses are going to create new jobs and stimulate the economy.

On the key challenges facing informal businesses in Africa.

The problem is large, and the response has to be a scaled response, which is why technology makes the most sense, right? Because that's the only way we're going to be able to keep up with the size of the problem. And yes, of course, access to data, cost of data, access to devices, a consistent network. I mean, we don't have electricity in this country.

On the difficulty in communicating the availability of resources for SMMEs.

In South Africa, there are a lot of different government schemes for small businesses. I am considered a black woman in South Africa. When I started Refresh [an enterprise for informal SMMEs that Ashmita launched in 2019]. I started that business having an honours degree, living in Sandton…having a massive LinkedIn network and a mentorship network…. But I did not know how to access any one of these funds for black women.

Sponsored Message

This podcast series is sponsored by The 2024 BigFive Summit

African Tech Leaders to Share BigFive Summit Stage

Join our growing lineup of powerhouse speakers at the 2024 BigFive Summit, Africa’s leading small business technology event (19-20 March 2024 in Cape Town). Our growing list of outstanding speakers includes Lunga Siyo, Aisha Pandor, Khomotso Molabe, Ashmita Singh, Denvor Daniels, Fiona Tabraham, Miranda Perumal, Simon Ellis, Zachariah George, Zach Marks, Kimberley Taylor, and many others.

Organizations attending the Summit will include Telkom Consumer, Standard Bank Group, MTN South Africa, Africa 118, Yellow Pages Kenya, SweepSouth, scale, Jem, Loop, Launch Africa Ventures, Savant Venture Fund, LayUp Technologies, Vendasta,, Duda, Helm, UVU Africa, AdBot, Qwili, Here Technologies, Local Knowledge, Visiosoft, and many more.

Purchase your Early Bird tickets today for only R2000. This grants the ticketholder two days of top-level content and networking in Africa’s top destination city with an amazing group of tech builders, investors, and corporate leaders. Apply the promotional code PODCAST at checkout to save an additional 25%.

Purchase Summit tickets in ZAR here:

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The Africa SMME Tech Report
The BIG5D Podcast
In-depth conversations with the innovators and entrepreneurs building the tech ecosystems for small and local businesses in Africa & The Middle East.