Small business are a key driver for economic growth: small business forum hears

Published Sep 1, 2022


Johannesburg – Small businesses are a key driver to economic growth and small to medium-sized businesses need access to skills to increase employment, Meta had of public policy SADC Nomonde Gongxeka-Seope said.

“At Meta, we recognise small businesses as a key engine and driver of economic growth and development, which is why this event was so important to us,” Gongxeka-Seopa said at the Small Business Forum hosted by Meta earlier this week.

“It gave us an opportunity to connect with entrepreneurs virtually and in person to offer advice on how they can establish, grow, and leverage tools like Reels, personalised ads, and WhatsApp Business to help them reach their intended audiences, ensuring their good ideas are found.”

The event brought together over 3 000 guests (physically and virtually) aimed at training and equipping small and medium-sized businesses with digital tools and resources to help grow their businesses and drive economic impact.

Gongxeka-Seopa said they were proud of the turnout of the forum.

“This is part of our ongoing commitment to providing access and skills that help small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) increase employment opportunities, and incomes, address gender equity gaps and increase cross-border trading,” Gongxeka-Seopa said.

“In many African countries, SMBs account for 50 percent or more of job creation.”

The forum featured a keynote address by Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko, Gauteng’s finance and e-government MEC, and a series of panel discussions and exclusive workshops designed to empower attendees to take their businesses to the next level.

The forum featured a keynote address by Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko, Gauteng’s finance and e-government MEC (fifth left). Picture: Supplied

Nkomo-Ralehoko said they were excited to be part of this initiative, adding that the development of SMMEs was a priority for the department because it was the only way to “create more jobs for our people”.

“We have created the e-Waste Management system to empower SMMEs and offer growth opportunities to their businesses. These include training on recycling e-waste and the creation of new gadgets from old or used material,” Nkomo-Ralehoko said.

“By digitising government services, we are hoping to increase innovative ideas that will assist the government to deliver better services. We have witnessed young people creating robots from electronic waste. This is quite an inspiration…”

Other attendees included policymakers, SMB experts and owners, content creators, and media who gathered to connect and network while gaining insights and inspiration from other entrepreneurs who have taken a leap of faith to start and grow their businesses using Meta technologies, resulting in job creation within their communities.

Meta experts also shared tips on leveraging creative digital tools, such as Reels, to monetise and grow on Facebook and Instagram to connect with customers.

Acting executive manager of the Seda Technology Programme, Colin Leshou, added, “In the current age, digital tools play a crucial role in the success and growth of any small business. As Seda, we’ve witnessed the type of impact it has had on the businesses of our tech-savvy clients.

“It is therefore essential that South African entrepreneurs firstly acquire the skills to effectively utilise these tools and resources to ensure that they not only take advantage of the present available opportunities but also look into the future to play a part in the evolution of the Metaverse,” he said.

The event also served as a space to discuss how best to prioritise the inclusion of young people and women in the digital economy, who continue facing a rough road to recovery post-pandemic as seen in Meta’s Global State of Small Business Report released in March 2022.

According to the report, 61 percent of women-led SMBs, versus 74 percent of men-led SMBs, – using Facebook – reported that they were operational or engaging in revenue-generating activities.

Closing off Women’s Month in South Africa, Meta celebrated the stories of Ian Mangenga who is the founder and chief executive of Digital Girl Africa, which since its inception in 2018, has been teaching and training women and girls on how they can navigate and thrive in the digital revolution.

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