Small, medium, micro-sized enterprises (SMMEs) are the backbone of South Africa’s economy and have been identified as crucial to advancing inclusive growth and development in the country.
George Masemola, Business Unit Manager at Axiz, SA’s leading value-added ICT distributor, says realising this, the company began looking for ways it could help its SMME partners obtain the skills they require to tackle the digital age, to be productive, and to take their businesses to the next level.
“All SMMEs are different, and have their own unique needs,” says Masemola. “However, they all have one thing in common. They are trying to increase their reach and grow their businesses by offering the services that are relevant in this digital age, and by improving their customer experience.”
He says Axiz introduced an SMME development programme, which is currently being developed into a full ecosystem of all the distributor’s SMME partners. “Our aim is to help them take their businesses to the next level, and with this in mind, we offer upskilling, marketing and sales, as well as finance,” Masemola explains.
Moreover, he says Axiz offers them access to market, meaning its SMME partners can leverage on the company’s existing enterprise partners.
He says one customer that Axiz has been assisting in this way, is Kubyala ICT Solutions, a highly reputable SMME that provides integrated solutions in the enterprise space, including deep-level business analysis, data reporting, database development, and project management.
However, Masemola says SMMEs almost unanimously face very real barriers in terms of accessing the skills they need, usually in terms of time and money. “And this is where Axiz stepped in. We are assisting Kubyala with funded Interns and are helping the company to develop their skills in the technology space by certifying them on the various verticals and technologies that Kubyala takes to Market.”
Bongi Silubane, Managing Director of Kubyala ICT Solutions, says this will help Kubyala grow its client base and boost its experience, which is needed to help build credibility and references.
According to Silubane, another challenge faced by SMMEs is that their capabilities are measured against their large, enterprise counterparts. “This can be a very real barrier to entry for SMMEs. Although we have the requisite skills and experience, customers often look to the bigger players, as they think they will be better at protecting their critical environments and helping them remain compliant within their industries.”
She says before starting Kubyala, the team worked for large ICT enterprises where they gained the business experience they needed, and need only to be given the chance to demonstrate that they have the skills and knowledge needed to do the job. “Forming partnerships with leading companies such as Axiz helps build our credibility, as they believe in us, and also back us up with the credit facilities we need to be able to transact.”
“Ultimately, our goal is to empower our customers to harness data and technology to transform their businesses, and make them more productive by simplifying management and deployment, and protecting their corporate data,” she adds. “We help them understand that technology can do more than keep the lights on, it can help them take their businesses to a new level in this digital age.”
Says Masemola: “SMMEs, according to recent research, create approximately 80% of employment in Africa, and help fuel the demand for new goods and services. They are crucial to our success in our country and cannot be underestimated. At Axiz, we are thrilled to be helping them transform into thriving businesses.”
“With this in mind, we are very proud to be part of an SMME programme, as what we are doing is in line with existing government initiatives. SITA in particular already has several special programmes aimed specifically towards SMME development in place.”
“Through our partnerships with OEMs, Axiz has begun a true journey for SMME development,” he concludes.