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Large companies often draw all the attention with famous brands and outlets across the country. But the real heroes of the financial world are the Small, Medium and Micro-sized Enterprises, or SMMEs. These smaller companies, ranging from street hawkers to small factories, are the heartbeat of our economy.
Though individually small, SMMEs in fact create the biggest business sector in the world, making up over 90 percent of businesses in most countries. They also employ the most people - at least 60 to 70 percent of jobs come from SMMEs.
There are more than 5 million SMMEs in South Africa and they are key to helping build our nation. It could not be a better time: thanks to the advances in connectivity and technology, small businesses have access to tools and markets they could never afford before.
Prior to the connected age, you needed a lot to do a lot. This is called economies of scale: a company’s ability to buy and produce in bulk made it cheaper to render certain services and products. But today the Internet has changed all of that, especially with broadband and cloud business tools.
A Practical Solution
Vodacom’s Business Booster App is an example of this: it’s a complete business management suite, including cash tracking, invoicing, to-do lists and more, that runs entirely on a smartphone, for less than R200 per month for two people. In the past, a company would have to spend thousands to get similar software, not to mention a desktop computer and several user licenses. They would have to back up their own information and upgrade the software every year. But with Business Booster, it’s always up to date, all stored online and you only pay for the month.
This is the power of modern connected technologies and it has enabled SMMEs to do much more and compete with the big guys. Actually, they don’t compete - they beat them. SMMEs are more agile than large companies. They innovate faster, pay closer personal attention to customers, create more jobs and can change gears smoothly as the market does. Put several SMMEs together for a project and they are better than the big corporates.
Today you can run your entire business from your smartphone, using apps such as Business Booster and Office365, all without hefty costs. But even if you run more computers than that, you don’t need an entire IT team. Vodacom’s Virtual CIO is an example of services that offer cheap yet effective ways to manage small business’ technologies, also on a monthly subscription, freeing up companies to focus on what takes their business forward. Small businesses can also protect themselves against disasters and criminal attacks by using very affordable online backup and disaster-recovery services.
The time for SMMEs is now. Not only do they now have access to the tools and skills that the big guys use, but the market wants faster and smarter businesses. This is why SMMEs matter to South Africa: they are her future.