June 2021 1st edition

Rural and township businesses go digital

Written by Sphelele Ngubane

SmartXchange is digitising businesses to help rural and township entrepreneurs and their clients connect more easily. SmartXchange and its partners registering township and rural businesses.

Chief Executive Officer of SmartXchange Jonathan Naidoo says during the Coronavirus Disease lockdown, township businesses were unable to operate, but their counterparts in urban areas continued with online sales and reliable internet connectivity. 

“As the impact on township businesses became more obvious, it was clear that the lack of participation in a digital economy was the crippling factor that contributed to the inability to trade, deliver and market products and services,” he says.

Naidoo and his team of young innovators put together the SiYaDiGiTiZa project to enhance the visibility of small businesses on an online platform, enabling them to trade, grow and become financially stronger.

“The project will bridge the gap between the township, rural and urban divide and will play a pivotal role in sustaining the historically marginalised township and rural economies.

“There is a need to reach out to more township and rural enterprises as there is a clear demand for the technological offerings of the project,” he says.

Praise Khumalo, the owner of SMEPlus which leads the listing of businesses into the directory, says it has already digitised over 2 000 businesses from the townships of Phoenix, Inanda, Ntuzuma, and KwaMashu. It is now in its second phase and is targeting 5 000 businesses.

“We are focusing on these four townships before we move to others. We set up appointments and also go to entrepreneurs, based on their availability. After we have visited most townships, our registration will be based purely online,” he explains.

What SiYaDiGiTiZa does

SMEPlus and Tag Your Delivery consult with small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) to check their compliance and assess their business processes. Following the consultation, they are listed on the Digital Business Directory and offered a Business Management App to help them run their business smoothly.

The directory delists all non-compliant and inactive SMMEs to ensure buyers meet credible businesses on the app. Customers are also allowed to rate the quality of their services and products.

The project is supported by local media companies that provide online marketing exposure and internet for the digitised businesses.

Naidoo says he hopes the project will serve as a model that can be expanded to every township and rural area in South Africa.

To list your business with SiYaDiGiTiZa, email praise@focalsoft.co.za or call 082 756 8442.

Rural development
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