Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) have been identified as productive drivers of inclusive economic growth and development in South Africa and around the world. Some researchers have estimated that, in South Africa, SMEs make up 91% of formalized businesses, provide employment to about 60% of the labour force and total economic output accounts for roughly 34% of GDP.
While contributing significantly to the economy, SMEs foster diversification through their development of new and unsaturated sectors of the economy. In addition they can provide a platform for local, regional and international growth. SMEs are considered an important contributor to the economy as drivers for job creation.
In 2015 the Western Cape CoLab in partnership with CiTi and the Western Cape Government got involved in research project aimed at exploring micro and small entrepreneurs’ understanding and utilization of ICTs for business purposes. One of the key findings of the project pointed to the need for skills development pertaining to the integration and use of digital technologies (mobile technology specifically) for business purposes.
The study lead to the development of digital skills training program “Mobile Technology in support of SME business”. The Program is aimed at enabling entrepreneurs and of SMEs, particularly in precarious conditions to develop an understanding of how mobile technology can be used to support business key activities and develop the ability to use mobile technology to perform business key activities.
Digital is one of the defining mega-trends of the current era that is reshaping the landscape of societies, affecting the public and private sector and creating new opportunities for small businesses and organisations that adapt effectively to a world of digital.
This training program is a two-day face-to-face training intervention followed by a 3 weeks coaching period and online material to support participants to integrate the learning into their businesses.
The course cover important aspects affecting most SMEs; such as:
Understanding business functions
Business activities and digital technology integration
Managing cellular data and connectivity
Making sense of integrated mobile technology services
Mobile applications and tools supportive of business activities
Making marketing videos and campaigns using mobile devices such as smartphones
Since 2016 to date more than 200 SMEs have attended the training program in various place such as Khayelitsha, Eerster River, George, Mosselbay, Oudtshoorn, Knyasna, Plettenberg Bay in the Western Cape province, and East London in the Eastern Cape province.
Entrepreneurs and SMEs owners who attended have rated and praised the training as most the effective and relevant in helping understanding the effect of digital technology and learning how to effectively use digital technology (and mobile devices ) to run and supporting theirs businesses. The participants where excited in learning how to use mobile applications to conduct key business activities and stay in touch with their businesses all the times, and mostly learning to capture and share business marketing videos with target markets suing popular platforms such as YouTube.
The training program has attracted attention form other CoLabs operating in provinces such as East Cape, Northern Cape and Gauteng province, who have started the preparations to roll-out the training in support of SMEs in the respective provinces. This year the Western Cape CoLab will continue to roll-out more of the Mobile Technology training in support of local SME in various regions and towns around the Western Cape; preparing them to take advantage of opportunities and conduct successful business in the digital economy..