Strategic partnerships – an insider's view by Hwan Lee

October 14, 2022

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Strategic partnerships – an insider's view    by Hwan Lee

Having been at Ozow for almost six years I find myself in a rather fortunate position. I started my journey in sales, where I learned the ins and outs of merchant relations, building a client base and how to look for opportunities to leverage. Then, armed with that knowledge and understanding, I moved into the world of partnerships and discovered that this is where my true passion lies.  

You see, to me a partnership is not transactional, it’s a two-way street, a relationship that must benefit and add value to both our merchants and our business. To that end we not only hold our partners in the highest regard, and treat them with the utmost respect, we actively foster relationships with them. Relationships that are based on open collaboration, transparency, and of course loyalty.  

And if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my time as Ozow’s Head of Partnerships, it’s the value that a strong strategic partnership can bring. For this reason, when finding partners, I always consider the impact the partnership will have for the merchant, their end-user and Ozow. But before I get into the impact we create with our strategic partnerships, we first need to talk about what makes them strategic in the first place.  

What makes for a strategic partnership

A strategic partnership is one that produces value, but in order for a partnership to do this, both parties need to be working towards the same goal. Their needs, values and intentions must be aligned, because ultimately this is what determines whether they succeed or fail. Of course, working towards the same goal is just one aspect. For a partnership to really work it needs to be underpinned by trust, loyalty and longevity. Some companies merely engage in fleeting, transactional relationships, whereas strategic partnerships carry each party forward. And when this happens, synergies arise, and we achieve a form of harmony where 1 + 1 = 3. What I’ve outlined above is at the heart of every one of Ozow’s partnerships, and something we always strive for.  

So, how do we identify the right partners? Well, first off, we gain an in-depth understanding of their business, their products and services, what they offer their end user and the impact they have on their respected industries.

From a commercial point of view, we look for partnerships that offer a stack of solutions to other businesses, so that we can offer our tech as an alternative. Adding an enhanced payment solution to a merchant’s existing platform helps them and allows us to leverage their emerging customer base. This has proven time and again to be a winning solution.

Assess the problem, then find the solution

These days, almost every business, in every industry, is looking for ways to save time and create efficiencies. This is something Ozow takes to heart. For us, having one of the most reliable products on the market isn’t good enough, speed and agility are key factors too.  

Having said that, let’s take a look at a practical example of a strategic partnership, in this case our merchant Mr D. Their business is founded on delivering food to customers when and where they need it. However, due to the nature of the business, at times there will be a need to refund a customer, whether that’s because of a delivery issue or a problem with the customer’s order. With Ozow Mr D can issue refunds in a few simple steps, returning funds to the end-user’s account quickly, and with no intervention from the user. This ensures customer satisfaction, while enabling them to order again.  

Another example is our partnership with one of the biggest municipal bill-paying platforms in SA. Before partnering with Ozow their customers had to pay accounts via manual EFT, or by physically visiting a specific municipal office or service provider, often traveling long distances to do so. By giving the merchant the option to collect payments via Ozow payment request links and QR codes, we’ve not only made collections easier and faster for the platform, but solved a customer pain point too.  

The businesses and industries we look to partner with

When it comes to partnerships there are a few key criteria we look for in potential partners and their industries.  

We look to partner with merchants and businesses who:

  • Show potential for growth in their respective fields
  • Complement our solution, our merchant and customer base
  • Accelerate the distribution of our products and solutions
  • Share a common vision and values

Ozow’s products are designed and built to service almost any industry, but here are just a few examples:  

  • Gaming
  • eCommerce
  • Accounting
  • Debt Collection

We’re ready to partner with you

In my time at Ozow I’ve been privileged to work with some of South Africa’s most forward-thinking businesses, both large and small, and have seen exponential growth in all of them. If you’d like to partner with us, or hear more about the value we can add to your business, click here.

Hwan Lee, Head of Partnerships

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