A stylish way to pay

Steve Jobs said, “The best way to create value in the 21st century is to connect creativity with technology”. A fact leading African tech company, Yoco has integrated into their company ethos. The potential for technology, creativity and design is limitless.

Founded in 2014 by a diverse group of friends from different walks of life who were tired of the status quo in an unequal country, the group came together to form Yoco. Made up of Chief Executive Officer Katlego Maphai, Chief Technology Officer Lungisa Matshoba, Chief Financial Officer Bradley Wattrus, and Chief Business Officer Carl Wazen. 

Yoco’s CEO, Maphai had a lightbulb moment while visiting San Francisco when he witnessed how Square, the US pioneer in the mobile point of sale space, was empowering small business owners. He came to realise the potential this could have for financial inclusion for small traders in South Africa – something that the country was desperately missing. 

If you’re like me, you’re wondering where the name Yoco originates from, I’m afraid the answer isn’t very simple. Whether it be a case of fiction being more scintillating than fact, we may never know. The tech company is happy to let our imaginations and conspiracy theories run wild. “There’s an urban legend about a relation to the Beatles,” says Head of Branding at Yoco, Mmaphuthi Morule.  

Morule is referring to Yoko Ono, the singer, songwriter and peace activist who was married to the late John Lennon (frontman of the legendary group, The Beatles). 

Origins of the name may be a mystery, however what Yoco represents today is clear. The South African leading tech company upholds entrepreneurs’ needs on a global scale, developing cutting-edge products based on their merchants’ needs, while facilitating collaborations with entrepreneurs across industries. 

Spearheading another major collaboration, Yoco has partnered with Laduma Ngxokolo of famed global fashion brand Maxhosa Africa to create 1000 limited-edition Yoco Khumo card machines. Yoco’s limited edition flagship machines will possess the unique and iconic Maxhosa design, with each machine bearing the designer and Chief Creative Officer, Laduma Ngxokolo’s signature. This ground-breaking collaboration is a first for South Africa, effecting Yoco Khumo as a collector’s item for individuals and businesses. Maxhosa Africa is Africa’s leading luxury, premium and heritage fashion and lifestyle brand. Recognised globally for their premium knitwear range that celebrates traditional Xhosa beadwork using South African mohair and wool. 

This collaboration has been in the works for over a year. “We are very intentional with our collaborations, with it not feeling transactional. The time that we took to bring it to light is indicative of the extent of it,” says Morule.

The longstanding relationship between Ngxokolo and Yoco progressed naturally over the years, with Ngxokolo having been a merchant for many years, using the card machine early on as his business grew. 

“Yoco has done a great job in ensuring that entrepreneurs have all the tools they need to be successful. Yoco thinks beyond local and aims to be a global leader, which is the model of the Maxhosa Africa business and seeing where we are now, it made sense to collaborate,” says Ngxokolo. 

Maxhosa Africa audaciously explores African storytelling through design and innovation. Their exceptional designs are worn all over the world by some of the biggest names in pop culture. In 2021 Maxhosa Africa garments were worn by the cast of the feature film ‘Coming 2 America’, produced by the masterful comedian and actor Eddie Murphy.  

As Yoco advances and surpasses industry standards, recently thriving in a pandemic and growing from 200 000 merchants in December 2021, to over 250 000 merchants currently. Their merchant focused strategy has enabled the leading tech company to break down barriers previously experienced by small business owners and provide them with tools for expansion and success. 

Thereby creating an authentic connection with the community and products that are constantly evolving. The global tech company hosts hybrid online events such as Yoco Meets where business owners share knowledge and connect with other business owners. Yoco Meets is a monthly event streaming through Yoco’s social media pages and website, the next Yoco Meets event is set to take place on the 7th of July 2022.

When asked about the next venture and collaboration for Yoco, Morule says, “This time we’ve used the Khumo, we can do something from an online perspective with online payments or our merchandise Yoco Swag. There’s loads of opportunities within different products and platforms we have with the business. For us it’s about what’s the next exciting thing we can do and how can we tell a beautiful story with somebody on it”. 
To purchase the limited-edition Yoco x Laduma card machines visit www.yoco.com/laduma

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Gugulethu Tshabalala
Gugulethu Tshabalala, is a multi-talented creative and jewellery designer with a background in public relations. She believes there is an artist in all of us and hopes to evoke emotion utilising different mediums.

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