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A study conducted by research firm In On Africa revealed that 86% of Small Medium Enterprise (SME) owners use their smartphones for business purposes . While 60% of the SME owners also feel that limitations posed by lack of a reliable internet connection, reliable services or financial solutions pose a threat to the success of their business. Belinda Rathogwa the Head of Client Solutions, Small Enterprises at Standard Bank feels that even though there are limitations in terms of connectivity, there is a massive opportunity for small enterprises to use digital solutions to drive business growth.

Entrepreneurs have great potential to contribute to the socio-economic development of this country. “With adequate infrastructure, the possibilities of what can be realised in business is endless. The term Fourth Industrial Revolution gets thrown around a lot, but we believe that there are some tangible benefits for South African SME’s within that conversation,” says Belinda Rathogwa, Head of Client Solutions- Small Enterprises, Standard Bank.

1.      Access to funding

Access to funding remains the biggest stumbling block for many SME’s in South Africa, with 6% of SME owners indicating that they’ve received funding from the government according to a report conducted by research firm In On Africa earlier this year. The advent of innovations such as Standard Bank’s ability to now grant a business working capital loan of up to R6m in 3 minutes, aim to tackle such pitfalls.

2.      Efficiency 

Digitisation is a term that is also commonly used when referring to the future of doing business. Now more than ever, we see organisations reaching previously unimaginable levels of productivity thanks to technology. “We are beginning to see SME’s embrace technology by partnering with established technology companies to get their products to consumers much easier and efficiently. For example, companies like Mr Delivery are having a profound effect on the local food industry.” says Rathogwa.

3.      Communication

 The prevalence of social media, particularly WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have changed the way many small enterprises do business. “Customers are now interacting with businesses in real time, with the additional ability to make sales with just a tap on the phone’s screen. Instagram feeds have become the new shop windows, and the comments section the new way of gauging customer feedback” adds Rathogwa.

4.      Security

As the shift towards a more connected business world grows every day, so do numerous security risks posed by fraudsters and hackers. Fortunately, innovations such as DebiCheck and soon to launch Escrow service from Standard Bank, ensure that businesses stay on top of and manage any financial risks their business may face due to fraud.

5.      Cashflow management

Now, more than ever, it has been become much easier for business owners to manage all affairs pertaining to money in their business. Thanks to mobile apps, businesses can now manage all their business transactions without ever having to go to a branch. Banking solutions such as a Business Current Account  allows you to transact in the way that is most convenient for you, from traditional branch banking to advanced electronic banking services. Your time is best spent focused on creating income.

Standard Bank, in partnership with Business Day TV, will be hosting the SME Summit 2020. The summit, which will focus on the development of entrepreneurship and SME success, is set to take place on Thursday, 5 March in Parktown, Johannesburg.

This year’s event will feature April Baloyi, Head of Business Lending at Standard Bank, who will be delivering a keynote address on Optimising the funding and lending options to gear your business up for maximum success.

I will also form part of a panel discussion focusing on Digital Readiness as a competitive advantage.

While it is still early days for digital adoption for SME’s in South Africa, businesses should ideally be starting to investigate ways to harness this increasingly connected environment and gain first mover advantages over their competitors, concludes Rathogwa.