SMMEs add their voice on the Fourth Industrial Revolution
In order to hone in on the Fourth Industrial Revolution and help prepare small businesses for the digital era, small businesses from across the country gathered at the second edition of the SMMEs in ICT Summit and Expo, which took place at the Sandton Convention Centre.
The SMMEs in ICT Summit offers small business a platform to gain access to training and development. The Summit also finds ways to elevate the importance of women within the SMME ICT environment and provide more leadership for enterprises.
In fact, about 60% of this year’s SMMEs in ICT Summit and Expo sessions were led by women who are in the tech industry. This year, the summit looked to realise President, Cyril Ramaphosa’s call to focus on providing ICT skills to youth, women and SMMEs.
Speaking at the Summit, Mutse Mfuleni, Executive Chairman of the ICT Summit, said: 'The SMMEs in ICT Summit and Expo was created in order to act as a platform where industry titans merge together in discussion, with the aim to comprehend the role that government together with the private sector play in the development of SMMEs, by emphasising the need to utilise ICT effectively to enhance business growth. The Summit’s leading platform is focused on the exchange of information on regulations, policies, and processes and to formulate strategies which will assist the growth of SMMEs. The Summit offers vast business networking opportunities, the mass potential for growth, new technology innovations and investments.'
Motse said, 'As SMMEs in the ICT sector we work very well with government as well as state entities that provide business opportunities for SMMEs. The last few years have been successful in the sense that we have worked with business people that are hands-on and skilled in ICT. In the past SMME’s operating in the ICT sector were providing services such as the delivery of computers to schools. However, that has since changed. To date, we have SMMEs that are trenching, SMMEs who are splicing and people who are software developers. That is now the change that we have accomplished. So, government entities are able to bring those opportunities because people are able to work in those different environments. Collaboration with the private sector is one other success, for example, the Vodacom Innovator Trust has enabled businesses to operate more efficiently by ensuring business owners have the necessary basic soft skills to manage their back office. These strides enable SMMEs to empower themselves and take advantage of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.'
Chief Officer for Vodacom Group Corporate Affairs, Takalani Netshitenzhe said: 'The National Development Plan states that SMME’s are the cornerstone of economic development. In our view, SMMEs have the potential to be the driving force of SA’s economy. This is why we are committed to the empowerment of small business. Vodacom supports the empowerment of small businesses through a number of initiatives, programmes and undertakings such as our supply chain management system whose policies have been aligned to the empowerment policies of the government.'
Chief Executive Officer for the Vodacom Innovator Trust, Tashline Jooste said: 'The Innovator Trust has been in operation for just under five years, and during that period, we have seen a positive trend, where the majority of SMEs that take part in the programme go on to complete it. Importantly, the Trust has seen the growth of black female-owned businesses of about 40%.
'We’ve also realised that each business operates on a different level, but the results have been astounding. Despite this, we’ve seen most of our SMMEs intake grow their staff numbers by 100 per cent and even 300%. And some have even grown their turnover by 300%, some even by 600 per cent.'