How Google AdWords payment reminders led me to Sava!

Federico von Bary


I’ve been fortunate to discover business opportunities through solving my own problems. In 2017, a colleague and I set up Workstyle Africa to create a comfortable, professional and flexible workspace that spoke to our needs as entrepreneurs in Kenya. Workstyle had a stellar kick off within the first year; however, spend management on the backend quickly became a forestalling hurdle.

Our business bank didn’t have a live transaction tracking feature. This meant we didn’t have clarity on how much was on our business card at any given time, and often we’d only find out the card needed a top up whenever Google alert told us the card payment declined for our AdWords subscription. With both myself and my business partner preoccupied with other tasks, we’d often lose a few days of social media ad coverage each month before we got around to topping up the account. This was a tangible hindrance to our growth marketing efforts that we needed to resolve.

Then on multiple occasions our staff went out-of-pocket for unexpected business expenses while I was out of town. To reimburse our staff as soon as possible, our in-house accountant spent a few days each month on tedious, time consuming expense reconciliations. But despite all his effort, it remained difficult to fully reconcile all the expenses. In one instance, after days of reconciling the costs of launching our second office, we discovered that 30% of the spend had been labelled as miscellaneous!

We needed a solution that empowered our employees to spend directly on the business account but still gave us control and real-time visibility on all the spend. Sharing my frustrations with Yoeal and Kola, I realised they too faced similar challenges in their businesses which were in completely different industries and locations. We quickly realised this was a significant issue for SMEs across Africa and we resolved to build a solution.

Fast forward to 2022: we’ve launched Sava, a spend management platform that solves inadequate spend controls, manual and time-consuming expense reconciliations, and delayed visibility on a company’s true cash flow position. Sava streamlines this entire process by enabling SMEs to issue an unlimited number of cards for staff while controlling spend before it happens. Additionally, Sava’s dashboard offers real-time visibility on company spend, and automates the expense reconciliations process ultimately freeing up time for higher-value tasks!

I’m grateful to have developed a solution to solve my own business challenges — but more importantly, I’m excited to see how it will empower Africa’s SME to take charge of their growth!