Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) contribute to around 80% of employment on the African continent, this according to the World Economic Forum. The creation of a new African middle-class, along with the creation of new goods, services and resources, can in some way be attributed to the overwhelming presence of SMEs.
Despite their importance and weight for the continent, SMEs nonetheless struggle against their larger counterparts on some very key aspects. Often, the resources available to some larger companies are decisive in just how competitive SMEs can afford to be.
Imagine a massive conglomerate with diverse departments at its disposal which ensure that maintenance or any other type of change within the structure doesn’t interrupt the supply to its clients or customers. Sure, we’re talking about global giants whose size is a product of their success and not necessarily a contributing factor; yet, emerging in this competitive market is already tough as it is.
Yet, smaller companies do thrive on emerging opportunities.
Enter Cloud technologies.
SMEs with little to no access to IT applications and capabilities have now begun to benefit of the so-called democratisation of technology through Cloud service providers levelling the playing field as it were. A recent IDC study has showed that more than 70% of SMEs who have adopted Cloud services have either reached or exceeded their highest expectations in terms of benefits.
“Digital transformation is imperative for modern SMEs, as it enables them to streamline back-office operations and processes and free up time and resources to focus on their core business”, says the Director of General Business at SAP Africa, Tracy Bolton.
SAP is one such Cloud tech company which has begun prioritising the SME market globally. More than 80% of its customer base is now made-up of SMEs.
Freeing up resources and time, as Bolton puts it, is an ace up the sleeves of SMEs. Often, the result of this combination is tailored customer experiences where the SME fine tunes itself to meet the demand of its customer base inspiring retention and loyalty. Both tenants for growth or, at the very least, sustainability.
It is a technological revolution which has become mutually beneficial to SMEs and the continent’s economy.
Going forward, the sustainability of the continent economy will rely heavily on job creation and financial independence of those currently dependent on welfare. SMEs offer a very tangible solution to the growing level of poverty and inequality on the African continent and should, therefore, receive all the same advantages as big business does.