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Intuit QuickBooks has seen stellar growth in its online business, which it says is validation of its philosophy of investing in and servicing the bourgeoning small and medium-sized (SME) business segment. This is vital in South Africa as 98,5% of the country’s economy is made up of SMEs, according to a recent Small Business Institute report.

Jolawn Victor, head of emerging markets at Intuit QuickBooks, said that because of this incredibly high concentration of small businesses in South Africa, it made business sense for Intuit QuickBooks to invest in the market, but “at the same time, it provides a fertile ground to support these small businesses so that they can reach their potential and drive prosperity in the region.”

Intuit’s total global revenue grew to $994 million in the fourth quarter, up 15 percent year-on-year. For the full year, revenue grew to nearly $6.8 billion, up 13% year-over-year. QuickBooks Online subscribers grew 33%, ending the year with more than 4.5-million subscribers. The strong growth was echoed across the various regions where it operates.

Demonstrating the size of the global SME sector, US subscribers jumped 25% to more than 3.2-million subscribers while international subscribers shot up a massive 58% to reach 1.3-million subscribers.

“We are excited that the introduction of the fourth industrial revolution has meant that small businesses are able, with the right tools, to have access to the kinds of synergies that were previously reserved for large enterprises,” she said.

In South Africa, the government has noted the importance of the small business sector not only for job creation, but also as an engine-room for the economy. As such, South Africa’s National Development Plan (NDP) envisages a country where 90% of jobs by 2030 are created by SMEs.

However, Victor says late payments, cash flow management and the streamlining of operations has been an obstacle holding back many small companies. This is true of both South Africa and other emerging markets.

“Offering simple, efficient solutions to these entrepreneurs, who are the driving force of the economy, frees them up to focus on their core businesses rather than spending so much of their time on book-keeping, invoicing and other administration duties,” said Victor.

“Mobile and web access in South Africa has greatly enhanced small business competitiveness, and now having access to solutions that leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve efficiency remotely, small business owners are well-placed to unleash their potential.”

“Intuit QuickBooks is committed to all the markets where it operates, and South Africa is no different. As the country plots the path towards the NDP’s vision, we will continue listening to its customers and continue working with and supporting SMEs in their quest to grow into profitable, sustainable and job-creating businesses,” says Victor.