Ruth’s Chris to return $20 million in small business loans

Ruth | April 24, 2020

The parent company of Ruth’s Chris Steak House, which has been at the center of a national firestorm after it claimed $20 million from a fund meant to help small business survive the coronavirus pandemic, is returning the money.
The news, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, broke hours after the U.S. Treasury Department updated its guidance for the “Paycheck Protection Program” to say that companies applying for the potentially forgivable loans “must certify in good faith” that they truly need the money.
“For example, it is unlikely that a public company with substantial market value and access to capital markets will be able to make the required certification in good faith, and such a company should be prepared to demonstrate to SBA, upon request, the basis for its certification,” the Treasury Department wrote in a “Frequently Asked Questions” document that was updated Thursday.

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BUSINESS STRATEGY

FreshBooks Expands With Invoicing Starter Plan for New Zealand Small Businesses

FreshBooks | May 26, 2022

FreshBooks, a cloud-based accounting software provider, announced that it is expanding its invoicing software offering to meet the needs of New Zealand small businesses. This includes the creation of a new starter plan and competitive pricing packages with unique pricing, set in NZ currency. “FreshBooks recognizes the depth and breadth of small businesses across New Zealand. We’re excited to help local owners impress their clients and get paid faster with our competitive new starter plan and invoicing software, FreshBooks is listening to the passionate small business owners in New Zealand by making it easier for them to digitize their invoicing.” -Dragana Ljubisavljevic, SVP of International Markets at FreshBooks The expansion in New Zealand arrives as small business owners look for invoicing software that is intuitive and simple to use. FreshBooks is different because it’s built exclusively for small businesses, making it easier to stay on top of invoicing. The company’s new starter plan in New Zealand lets businesses: Send 2 invoices per month to up to 2 clients Collect online payments without invoicing Track unlimited expenses Get paid with credit cards via Stripe & PayPal Access their account from anywhere on iOS and Android devices All pricing packages are being offered at new competitive rates. The expansion in New Zealand builds on FreshBooks securing $130M in funding, bringing its valuation to over USD $1 Billion. With a mission to reach more customers in more countries around the world, FreshBooks also acquired German-based FastBill to strengthen global expansion plans. Learn more about FreshBooks here. About FreshBooks FreshBooks is changing the way business owners manage their books. Its owner-first accounting platform, loved by businesses in over 160 countries, takes an easy-to-use approach to managing finances, billing, payments, and client engagement. FreshBooks, known for its 10x Stevie award-winning customer support, serves customers of all sizes from offices in Canada, Croatia, Mexico, Germany, Netherlands, and the US.

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FINANCE

OPay and Mastercard announce strategic partnership to grow cashless ecosystem and advance digital financial inclusion for millions

OPay & Mastercard | May 19, 2022

Fintech giant OPay and Mastercard today announced a strategic partnership, which marks a significant boost for wider financial inclusion and economic prosperity by opening up digital commerce to millions of people across Middle East and Africa. The collaboration enables OPay consumers and merchants in the region - including Algeria, Morocco, Egypt, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Kenya, Pakistan, South Africa and the UAE - to engage with brands and businesses anywhere across the globe, thanks to a Mastercard virtual payment solution linked to the OPay eWallet. This partnership is the latest milestone in Mastercard's emerging market strategy where the technology company is collaborating with growing Fintech's such as OPay to expand access to digital payments, enable multiple lifestyle services, create new pathways to financial inclusion and support the next generation of super-apps. Consumers are increasingly looking for seamless user experiences on a single platform offering easier interactions to complete various day-to-day needs, including sending and receiving money, ordering food and groceries, organizing transport, lending, investing and listing items they wish to sell. In the initial phase of this partnership, OPay customers will benefit from the Mastercard virtual payment solution linked to their OPay wallets, to shop at well-known global brands for leisure, travel, accommodation, entertainment, streaming services and more. The service is available regardless of whether or not the customer has a bank account. It also allows small business owners to purchase from suppliers abroad and pay with the secure virtual payment solution. "At Mastercard, our innovation strategy is rooted in partnerships to support inclusion at scale. Our partnership with OPay demonstrates our commitment to supporting payments providers across the world to create an interconnected global payments ecosystem that benefits an array of consumers with unique needs." -Amnah Ajmal, Executive Vice President for Market Development, Mastercard EEMEA Yahui Zhou, CEO of OPay,said: As the leading fintech in the Middle East and Africa, we are delighted to be partnering with Mastercard as we continue on our journey to promote financial inclusion, helping to open up the global economy to more consumers and businesses across Middle East and Africa. Since its operations started in 2018, OPay's active users have grown to 15 million in dozens of markets in which it operates. The company processes millions of transactions per day on average. In Nigeria alone, where OPay takes significant market share, users have saved billions of US dollars in the last four years through credit-linked savings accounts from their mobile wallets and small loans from lenders that use its platform. Plans are in place to launch OPay services in other markets in the next three to five years, significantly driving the growth of digital inclusion and digital commerce, while at the same time widening OPay customer inclusion into the global economy. Mastercard has made a worldwide commitment to financial inclusion, pledging to bring 1 billion people and 50 million micro and small businesses – with a focus on 25 million women entrepreneurs – into the digital economy by 2025. About OPay: OPay is a fast-growing mobile payment fintech company. OPay has achieved significant growth in the past three years and has become one of the largest fintech companies in Africa and Middle East with a decent market share in key markets including Nigeria, Egypt, and Pakistan among others. OPay offers bespoke services to different clients in order to suit their needs; some of these services include offline payment, online payment, digital wallet service through AI and other fintech innovations. OPay boasts over 15 million registered wallet users, 600,000 merchants nationwide and surpassed $6 billion in monthly transaction value. About Mastercard Mastercard (NYSE: MA), www.mastercard.com, Mastercard is a global technology company in the payments industry. Our mission is to connect and power an inclusive, digital economy that benefits everyone, everywhere by making transactions safe, simple, smart and accessible. Using secure data and networks, partnerships and passion, our innovations and solutions help individuals, financial institutions, governments and businesses realize their greatest potential. Our decency quotient, or DQ, drives our culture and everything we do inside and outside of our company. With connections across more than 210 countries and territories, we are building a sustainable world that unlocks priceless possibilities for all.

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TECHNOLOGY

Norma: Turkey’s First Neobank for Freelancers, Sole-Traders, and Micro-SMBs Launches Platform to Help Manage their Business and Finances

Norma | June 24, 2022

Norma, an all-in-one banking, accounting, and business services platform, has seen interest from members early on with more than 2000 small business pre-registrations for its services. Norma moved from its closed beta to public launch in Turkey and is quickly onboarding small businesses on its list while also acquiring new members. Norma wants to onboard thousands of small businesses in the country before the year end and collect feedback from them to release new features to enhance and automate their financial experience. Norma completed two successful fundraising rounds within the span of one year; a $350k pre-seed round from various angel investors in Turkey and a seed round of $1,8m led by Global Founders Capital, and joined by MSA Novo, Finberg, D4 Ventures. The founder Hakan Gonca, a seasoned executive in the Fintech space, is excited about the product release and explains why Turkey is the right place to launch, emphasizing on the crucial role Norma will play in the lives of SMBs and freelancers. Norma wants to build an internationally impactful company, while partnering with globally recognized brands and bringing customer-oriented solutions for small businesses to increase their visibility in the banking system, and to support their financial efficiency. “All around the world, banking is focused on individual users and the needs of large companies, while ignoring small businesses that need these products the most. Moreover, the products offered to these businesses come with no advantages in terms of segmentation or pricing. Norma offers a next-generation experience by focusing on the needs of these businesses while creating a community where members can learn from each other as well. Norma distinguishes itself from the traditional banking approach by combining all company finance and accounting information on a single platform, while expanding the scope of banking services offered to these businesses. The interest international investors has given us even further assurance that we will make a great deal of difference in banking for small businesses with our customer-oriented vision. Norma is keen to become a multi-regional player and grow both in Turkey and new markets.”

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TECHNOLOGY

Interlaced.io Announces Acquisition of Grove Technologies

Interlaced.io | June 23, 2022

Interlaced.io, a leading managed IT services provider, announced today the acquisition of Grove Technologies, a high-performing IT Service Provider based in the DC Metro Area. Founded by Jon Brown in 2014, Grove has grown to be a staple name in providing services to Apple-integrated and cybersecurity-focused small businesses. “Partnering with Jon Brown and the Grove Technologies Team will improve our ability to bring Interlaced’s world-class IT services to innovative and fast-growing SMBs in the DC Market. We’re excited about the strong Mac-focus and cybersecurity expertise the Grove team brings to the table. I look forward to seeing our combined capabilities serving both Grove and Interlaced clients, current and future,” -Jeff Gaines, President of Interlaced.io. Grove will continue to operate as a stand-alone brand with close collaboration and mutual support with Interlaced. This acquisition serves to deepen the technical and non-technical capabilities available to both Grove and Interlaced clients across the country. Jon Brown, Founder of Grove, will remain on staff and continue to oversee the DC Market, and the rest of the team at Grove Technologies will remain in their current roles servicing Grove’s innovative group of clients. This new partnership is going to help us continue to grow and provide world-class IT support services to our clients. We’re really excited to be backed by such a well established team and brand that can help take Grove Technologies to the next level, said Brown. About Interlaced Interlaced was founded in 2009 with the goal of transforming how small businesses leverage Apple Technology. Since then, Interlaced has grown into a modern MSP, adding capabilities and expertise in both Apple and PC management, project management, cloud, security, and mobile device management. In 2018, Interlaced joined the Evergreen Services Group portfolio and joined the Executech Family of Companies in November of 2019. In October of 2021, Interlaced acquired Three18 Inc., a Los Angeles based MSP. The acquisition of Grove Technologies represents the second acquisition Interlaced has completed in recent months. To learn more about Interlaced, visit https://interlaced.io/. About Grove Grove Technologies was started in 2014 out of a desire to provide amazing Apple-focused IT support services to the Washington DC area. What set Grove apart early on was its client-focused approach to IT support, offering outsourced IT made easy. Grove’s approach to IT is to match the right technology solutions for our clients’ needs. In 2020 Channel Futures ranked Grove Technologies the #17th best IT Service Provider nationwide and in 2021, Grove was ranked #6 on its IT Companies to watch via the Channel Futures NextGen 101 list. To learn more about Grove Technologies and our core offerings check out our website at https://grovetech.co/.

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