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How Enstack’s Superapp is Helping Small Businesses in Southeast Asia to Grow

By Arteculate May 24, 2023 #Enstack
Enstack | Small Business | Superapp | SME

Operating a small business can be challenging, juggling multiple tasks and roles simultaneously. Typically, an SME will have an e-commerce store from which they’d receive orders, then login to their banking app to verify payments, and then use Grab or another app for deliveries. When it’s only 5 or 10 orders, this is manageable. But as a business grows with more orders, this approach complicates operations with dedicated people coordinating information between these apps. Recognizing this struggle, Enstack created a single superapp with everything an SME needs to manage its digital presence. 

Based in the Philippines, the service has quickly grown into a client base of over 70,000 users. Businesses (many of them led by female entrepreneurs) utilize the platform to offer various products and services, from health and beauty products to tutoring and even helicopter services. Enstack recently made headlines after successfully raising US$3 million in funding, led by Mangrove Capital Partners. It’s the firm’s first investment in Southeast Asia, with a proven track record of backing global tech leaders, including Skype and Wix. In conversation with Arteculate Asia, Co-Founder and CEO of Enstack, Macy Castillo, elaborated on the journey of Enstack and how it’s committed to empowering female entrepreneurs as it expands across Asia.  

How Enstack works: Tech to streamline SME operations

Enstack | Small Business | Superapp | SME

In Southeast Asia, setting up a website is the most significant barrier to starting an online store. Often this means going through an arduous process with several providers for payments, logistics, technical support, and more, all of whom ask small businesses for a lot of paperwork they may not have on hand. These struggles are all in stark contrast to how it works in the US and Europe, where an entrepreneur can set up an online store with just a few clicks and start selling to customers. 

According to the latest data from the Department of Trade and Industry of the Philippines, 99.58% of all established businesses are MSMEs. Putting things into perspective, Macy shares that one of the most popular small businesses in the Philippines is operating a corner “Sari-Sari” store. There are 1.3 million such stores, but they only comprise 18% of all SMEs in the Philippines. The remaining 82% of small businesses consist of food businesses, service providers, beauty and fashion brands, and more, which enjoy higher sales volumes. Looking at these trends, one can begin to grasp the size of the SME landscape of the Philippines.

Recognizing this phenomenon and purpose-built for SMEs, Macy describes Enstack as an omnichannel store builder. “We want to help small businesses digitize their entire operation in one app, giving them all the tools they need to run and grow their business. This includes shortening their journey of building a store and selling on the store,” she explained. Enstack achieves this vision by focusing on a simple onboarding process and a comprehensive suite of back-office functions. 

Enstack has made the entire sign-up process simple. Businesses can immediately start accepting orders with only valid proof of identity and a selfie. These orders can be settled via cash on delivery, credit/debit cards, or digital payment methods such as GCash and GrabPay. Enstack has partnered with several delivery companies to offer standard and same-day delivery, including Grab, Ninjavan, 2Go, Flash Express, and Lalamove. 

Collectively, the above features ensure businesses on Enstack can offer their customers a smooth experience. Behind the scenes, from inventory management to bookkeeping, Enstack helps business owners handle critical back-office operations digitally, enhancing efficiency. It even helps generate analytical reports to measure growth more effectively. Macy says, “Everything is readily available once they register on the app. Submitting the same documentation multiple times or requiring any special coding skills to integrate these services is unnecessary. It’s all simply there.”

The journey of Enstack to empower small businesses

Enstack | Small Business | Superapp | SME
The founders of Enstack. From L to R – Macy Castillo and Geoffrey Prentice

Before founding Enstack, Macy was the Head of Commercial Business for Shopee Philippines. Armed with a decade of experience in the e-commerce industry, she witnessed its evolution in Southeast Asia, including its democratization and boom during the pandemic. Despite this growth, much of the industry needed to be more cohesive. Macy quickly recognized the need for a simplified solution that brought all of the operations of a small business under one umbrella. 

To solve this problem faced by SMEs, Macy teamed up with Geoffrey Prentice, a veteran entrepreneur famed as a Co-Founder of Skype. Thus, with this strong founding duo, Enstack was born. Since then, the company has grown considerably, recording 5x growth in Q4 of 2022. As it grows, the company is committed to enhancing its platform and educating entrepreneurs on how to grow their businesses and make the most of their digital platforms. 

Empowering entrepreneurs with the knowledge to succeed

Enstack | Small Business | Superapp | SME

Building and scaling a business is a challenging task in any industry. Fully aware of these struggles, Enstack conducts workshops to help its merchants grow their business skills to build a successful company. Many of these programs offer specific in-depth training that meets the differing needs of entrepreneurs on its platform. 

Macy states, ‘’Our team is hyper-focused on helping business owners understand their whole digitalization journey and guide them every step of the way.” Enstack has a dedicated Experience Team that works closely with business owners right after onboarding. This team offers guidance and conducts training programs to help entrepreneurs. The company also works with government entities to provide the best opportunities to their merchants. 

Supporting a female-led SME sector to grow

Enstack | Small Business | Superapp | SME

Being a predominantly female organization, including its leadership team, Enstack firmly understands the Philippines’ SME sector, which consists mainly of female entrepreneurs. Macy shared that over 80% of all businesses on Enstack are led by women. “Most of our onboarded merchants are female, and many of our top product categories are female-driven,” she explained. To that end, Enstack has undertaken several initiatives to empower female entrepreneurs in the Philippines. 

Most recently, it hosted EmpowHER, its inaugural forum to empower women in the technology sector. The event’s theme, “Conversations On Reengineering A Female-Led Future For Tech,” highlighted the importance of diversity and inclusion in driving innovation and growth in the sector. EmpowHER attracted participants from various segments of the tech ecosystem, including startup founders, executives, venture capitalists, and government officials, who shared their experiences, insights, and ideas on creating a more equitable and inclusive business landscape. 

At the event, Macy commented on the industry landscape: “Filipinas lead and own the majority of MSMEs in the country. However, these women leaders still face several challenges in financial inclusion, such as less economic participation, credit access challenges, and low utilization and knowledge of financial products. Addressing these challenges requires interventions in creating an enabling and empowering environment that allows Filipina entrepreneurs to thrive in a digital environment. Technology offers tremendous potential in bridging these gaps so we can set up more Filipinas for entrepreneurial success.” 

The Future of Enstack: Transforming SMEs across Southeast Asia

Enstack | Small Business | Superapp | SME

Enstack’s commitment to simplifying business management for SMEs has gained widespread recognition. Its user-friendly design and comprehensive suite of features make it an ideal solution for businesses of all sizes. Looking ahead, Enstack aims to strengthen its platform and develop its training programs while continuing to expand its presence. Today, Enstack is utilized by small businesses across several industries, as we saw ranging from food providers to service providers to fashion brands to niche transportation services and more. With such widespread adoption, Enstack is now powering a vast percentage of SMEs in the Philippines. The platform’s flexibility paired with widespread adoption, along with the vast size of its market, highlights how significant Entack’s growth potential can be. So far, it has mainly seen growth in the bigger cities of the Philippines. Still, the team is looking to expand geographically, with their first aim being Vietnam and, eventually, across Southeast Asia.

By Arteculate

Arteculate is your guide to the Asian tech industry. We give you unparalleled insights, accurate, local tech news, thoughtful features and sometimes scathing opinions on where things are headed. Stay tuned for the best of Asia!

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