Small, medium, and micro-sized enterprises (SMMEs) across South Africa are key to unlocking a myriad of job opportunities through innovative thinking and products that seek to solve some of the country’s most pressing needs. But they also face numerous challenges, from funding to networks and access to markets. Perhaps the most underappreciated challenge they face, however, is visibility.
At Google, we firmly believe that with the right support and opportunities, small businesses have the potential to become large enterprises. That’s why we’ve done our best to help small businesses address the challenges they face. A good example of this is our ‘Hustle Academy’ (g.co/hustleacademy). Launched as part of a partnership with the Department of Small Business Development, the academy aims to equip SMMEs with the tools they need to thrive. We also recently ran a competition where 10 small businesses whose offerings range from the arts to wellness, each won a starter kit containing tools to help build their businesses including a Get your business online Google guide, a Yoco POS, Vodacom swag and an opportunity to win an Inverter from FNB South Africa.
But all that support can only go so far if those SMMEs aren’t visible to their potential customers. That’s why we’ve helped more than 6 million SMMEs throughout Africa to digitise through Google Business Profiles. Another tool improving SMME visibility across Africa is Market Finder, which helps entrepreneurs find opportunities in international markets. Our free Google Marketing Kit, meanwhile, helps entrepreneurs market themselves better.
An example of how this kind of visibility can make a difference to SMMEs is South African lifestyle brand Tshepo Jeans. By using Market Finder, it was able to expand sales not only to the UK and US, where it suspected its products would be well received, but also to the Netherlands. It was also able to tailor its search ads to further increase its visibility in all three markets.
It’s crucial that we support South African SMMEs and one of the best forms of support we can give them is visibility.
Dr. Alistair Mokoena is the Google South Africa Country Director and Professor of Practice at NWU Business School and the UJ Business School. He is a servant leader who is driven to make an impact in society by improving lives and livelihoods. Alistair has helped build some of South Africa’s biggest brands and is passionate about bridging South Africa’s digital divide.