According to a study by the Small Enterprise Development Agency, South Africa has one of the highest failure rates of new SMEs in the world, at an estimated 75%. Some 40% of these businesses fail due to HR or labour issues, specifically related to lack of compliance.

In 2014, Adam founded a human capital consulting company called Holistic Advance. She soon realised that there was huge gap in HR services.

“I received daily calls from small business clients with questions about leave, absenteeism and pay,” she explains. “Large corporates usually have access to enterprise HR systems, but these are costly for a small business. The challenge is that there aren’t many options for small businesses when it comes to automated HR systems, particularly options that are affordable and simple to use. I founded Cap-H to address this challenge.”

Helping to improve HR competence

Adam launched Cap H, an HR application that helps SMEs to simplify and automate key HR processes, in 2017. Funding was a challenge in the start-up phase, so she was forced to bootstrap for several months.

“It was a hard slog running a consulting business while trying to develop a technology product on the side. My business partner and I had many setbacks along the way and burnt our fingers with some partnerships in the initial stages of development, but we persevered and kept trying to find the right people to partner with. That was the key,” she says.

She adds that many entrepreneurs make the mistake of believing that they don’t need to think about HR. It’s important to understand that employees are the most valuable assets in every business because without them, your business can’t grow.

Companies can sign up on Cap H’s site and add employees to create an online database. Employees can then access it at any time to apply for leave and view their leave balances. Managers receive email notifications when an employee applies for leave and they can approve and manage the process online. All leave categories are updated according to the basic conditions of employment, ensuring that companies are automatically compliant.

Moving forward, Adam plans to grow her client base significantly and add new features that address the key pain points of clients. “We want to automate as many processes and support small businesses with functionality that will take the HR admin off their hands. In the long-term, we aim to be the partner of choice for all small businesses,” she concludes.

Adam’s advice for aspiring entrepreneurs:

  • Just keep on keeping on. With a clear vision and purpose, people will get on your bus. So just keep pushing.
  • If funding is an issue, then knock on every possible door. Pitch to anyone who will listen and even to those who don’t want to. Fortune favours the persistent.
  • Don’t try to be the expert at everything – surround yourself with amazing people who can best advise you.