By Kelly Fisher, Account Director at Irvine Partners
We recently shared how bigger businesses can make an impact on small and medium enterprises (SMMEs) in South Africa. This week, we are sharing a few more ways in which this can be done in the hope that it continues to inspire companies to use local suppliers, offer training to local vendors and assist with funding for small businesses.
Startups in South Africa have the potential to unlock a myriad of job opportunities for South Africans through innovative thinking and products that seek to solve some of the country’s most pressing needs. Through a rigorous and competitive selection process, the Google for Startups Black Founders Fund in Africa Program has selected 50 top Black-led technology startups locally and across the continent to join the program.
The startups will receive funding from an allocation of $50 million to help spur their growth as part of a broader Africa Investment Fund plan launched last year. Carry1st in South Africa is one such startup that has already received equity investments. Google is part of a group of investors in the business, one of Africa’s leading mobile games publishers. Carry1st will use the additional capital to expand its content portfolio; grow its product, engineering, and growth teams; and acquire new users.
Another investment priority for Google is the SMME sector, which forms the backbone of South Africa’s economy and is key to job creation. In partnership with the Department of Small Business Development, Google wants to provide support, training and resources to these small enterprises through the newly launched ‘Hustle Academy’ , a sub-Saharan African initiative aimed at supporting SMMEs and helping their businesses thrive.
Partnering with a company that’s bigger than yours is a smart way for smaller businesses to grow their audience and reduce expensive costs, such as tech development and marketing expenses, says Tshepo Matlou, Head of Marketing and Communications at Jurni, a local stay booking platform.
As a high-level player in the digitally charged travel and tourism space, Jurni has been onboarding tourism SMMEs to help them establish or enhance their digital footprint. “Modern travellers are digitally savvy, searching and paying for their travel experiences online. But the tech needed to secure and manage bookings is expensive, so partnering with a bigger company that already has that technology in place avoids having to shoulder those costs,” says Matlou.
Jurni also recently joined forces with established travel activities booking platform Activitar, in a partnership where Activitar suppliers list their activities on the Jurni platform.
The partnership is a great example of how bigger tourism players can create new ways of including SMMEs in the economic activities and benefits of this sector more prominently, says Matlou. “It shows how travel and tourism operators who have different offerings that aren’t in direct competition with each other can collaborate to maximise the visibility for SMMEs, with the added bonus of making the travel experience more efficient and enjoyable for their customers,” he adds.
Assisting small businesses to grow is one of the ways in which corporations can help strengthen the economy and fast track the country’s recovery post the pandemic.
Zoho believes in supporting creation of self-sustaining economic clusters, as part of its transnational localism strategy. SMMEs are critical for any economy as they create a large number of jobs. To support them, Zoho partners with local organisations and government bodies to make enterprise technology available at an affordable price so as to remove adoption barriers, and also provides training and knowledge-sharing sessions to help SMMEs utilise the technology in an optimal way.
SMMEs are also the most vulnerable to changing times. They need to be quick and nimble for grabbing new opportunities and adapting to changing market trends. This is where cloud technology can help them, by allowing them to automate mundane tasks, quickly create and implement new processes, and have a real-time view of their business performance. With Zoho, SMMEs can get 50+ products for practically every business area, and do not have to worry about data silos, integration hassles or multi-vendor contracts.
Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront
Tourism and hospitality companies play a big role in creating business opportunities for local suppliers. Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront, for example, uses a number of small businesses in and around the hotel and for various supplies.
“Even though we are part of a big hotel group, we are very aware that we are part of the Cape Town and South African community, too,” notes Dominique van Wezop, Head of Operations at Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront.
“As such, we are dedicated to using local suppliers as far as possible for many aspects of our daily operations. In the kitchen we use a company called New Life Micro Greens. We also use Happy Hippie for in-room gifting and Fudge is Fudge for little treats at turndown. We know how much of a difference it makes to a small business to be able to supply a bigger business with goods and services, so we always make an effort to use proudly South African SMMEs in our hotel.”
Where to from here?
If you are a decision maker or a person of influence in your company, we encourage you to suggest small business support as part of your company’s CSI initiatives. If you are not a decision maker, you can still take your ideas to your manager, team lead or anyone that is in a position to assist you. According to a McKinsey report, “SMEs across South Africa represent more than 98 percent of businesses, employ between 50 and 60 percent of the country’s workforce across all sectors, and are responsible for a quarter of job growth in the private sector”. It is clear that this sector is critical to South Africa’s economy, so shouldn’t we all be doing as much as we can to support and grow it?
Kelly Fisher is a communications specialist. She sharpened her pen in motoring journalism before moving into comms, marketing and PR. She is also co-host of the local Brown Girl’s Guide podcast.