Can tech education increase the use of tech solutions among SME owners? In an effort to find out why South African small business owners are not using or investing in technology solutions, we at SME South Africa last year launched the white paper report, Advancing Technology Use Among South African SMEs to Accelerate Growth.
The white paper looks at how digital technology and connectivity can help level the playing field for small businesses to compete with their larger counterparts by enabling SMEs to access new markets, reduce business costs, and improve efficiency and competitiveness.
The following interview with Gugu Mjadu, executive general manager of marketing at Business Partners Limited, is an excerpt from the Report which also features interviews with Professor Barry Dwolatzky, founder and director of Wits University’s Joburg Centre for Software Engineering (JCSE) and Luvuyo Rani, co-founder and MD of Silulo Ulutho Technologies.
The white paper also looks at:
- The obstacles that hinder the use of technology by SME owners.
- The importance of education in increasing tech adoption.
- Strategic recommendations and solutions going forward.
**** DOWNLOAD Your Free Copy HERE ******
Mjadu on increasing internet access and the need for tech providers to introduce cheaper products for the South African market to improve affordability.
Q: What is the responsibility of the different stakeholders (tech providers, infrastructure builders and the government) in getting businesses online, and incentivising digital entrepreneurship?
In order to take advantage of the various benefits that 4IR brings, small business owners need to do some research to identify technologies and software available in their markets.
The government needs to ensure all South Africans, including entrepreneurs, have affordable and stable access to technology, this
starts with addressing data costs and bandwidth issues.
More affordable data is essential for both economic development and
for unleashing opportunities for South Africa’s youth.
To improve affordability, Government needs to finalise migration
from analogue to digital terrestrial television in order to free up the
frequency band so that we can roll out Wi-Fi to townships and rural
areas on a much more cost-effective scale.
The government also must expose learners to technology much earlier
through the education system from townships to rural areas.
The commitment by Government to introduce automation training in
primary schools and ensuring every child has a tablet device will go a
long way towards addressing the digital skills shortage in the country.
Tech and network providers must look at introducing cheaper products
for the South African market to improve affordability. They need to look
at innovative ways of rolling out Wi-Fi in all parts of South Africa.
The private sector, in general, can sponsor and collaborate more with
the government and tech providers within education and entrepreneurial
spaces to ensure access and improvement in skills.
Incubation of business owners and exposing them to technology is
another way to assist.
Q: What kind of tech education and tools should we be equipping our business owners and entrepreneurs with?
The first and enabling responsibility is with the different stakeholders in the entrepreneurial eco-system. We should identify ways to support business owners, starting with providing cost effective and reliable access wherever business owners are located. For instance, the private sector should include technology training for business owners under their enterprise and supplier development programmes, and provide sponsorship for technology access for both entrepreneurs and schools.
The second responsibility is with the business owner. In an ever-evolving technological landscape, they need to incorporate new technologies to stay competitive; they should upskill themselves and their employees to be competitive in the future. There are some opportunities from technology providers like Facebook and Google to upskill.
**** Learn more about the role of education in increasing tech use among entrepreneurs DOWNLOAD the Full Report HERE ******