There is a saying that goes, “Anyone can register a business with the CIPC, but it takes a real entrepreneur to grow it.” Growing a business is tough and requires resilience, luck, resources, and most importantly, knowledge of how to leverage technology.

Research by the Western Cape government indicates that South Africa has a higher failure rate of SMMEs than elsewhere in the world, with 70% – 80% of our small businesses failing within five years. In previously disadvantaged communities, only 1% of businesses progress from employing fewer than five people to having a staff of ten or more.

As you can see, while it has become relatively easy and fast to set up a business, growing it remains challenging, especially for those who are technologically averse or lack the necessary knowledge and skills. That’s why TransformSA has decided to host a discussion in our X Spaces to delve into this topic. In our latest installment, “Technology and Innovation,” we assembled technology experts to shed light on some of the technological solutions that business owners might not be aware of.

We invited five panelists from different backgrounds:

  1. Nathi Mogomotsi

Nathi Mogomotsi: A cybersecurity specialist, researcher, and founder of Vula Ops. He is the go-to expert for ethical hacking and implementing cybersecurity measures in your company.

2. Thando Vimba

Thando Vimba: Co-founder and Chairperson of Tech Innovators Hub, offering a variety of services for SMEs based in Mthatha.

3. Lemuel Mmollamo

Lemuel Mmollamo: Another techpreneur and founder of Umoya Technologies.

4. Bonke Kweza

Bonke Kweza: A tech entrepreneur and founder of Vergo Tech in East London, specialising in digital marketing, data a & analytics, data science, and machine learning.

5. Boitumelo Monageng

Boitumelo Monageng: Founder of Swypa Delivery, a food delivery service company in Tembisa, soon to launch in Soweto. Monageng also previously ran a community newspaper in Tembisa.

Bonke, are there any apps you’ve developed that you’d like to share with us?

Bonke: Yes, we’ve developed several apps for companies in South Africa. One of them is PriceApp, an e-commerce site we recently completed. It’s similar to UberEats or Mr. D but targets private chefs rather than the mainstream market. Another notable app is Paysure, which is designed for the e-commerce space. We also developed a mobile app called Clothing Boutique. These are three of the notable apps we have worked on over the past two years.

Buitumelo, tell us a bit about your business, Swypa.

Swypa is an online delivery service primarily aimed at providing a marketing solution for township-based businesses. We offer a platform where customers can place orders for food, alcohol, medicine, and parcels. Our fleet of bikes then delivers these orders throughout Tembisa. We launched in Soweto in 2022 but had to put that on hold.

Bonke, can you please tell us a bit about the data science industry you’re involved in?

Bonke: Sure, I’m a small player in the data analytics, data science, and machine learning space, but I believe there’s a significant need for these services. Every business, whether small or large, generates data, and this data needs to be mined and analyzed to make sense of it. Data analytics involves analysing data about your customers, financials, and other aspects of your business. This analysis helps in making informed decisions and uncovering valuable insights.

Nathi, what are the prevalent cybersecurity threats?

Nathi: As ethical hackers, companies approach us to simulate cyberattacks before real hackers can exploit vulnerabilities. One of the top threats for any organisation is the lack of patching and updating software. If software isn’t regularly updated, vulnerabilities remain, leaving systems open to exploitation by hackers. 

Another significant threat is weak passwords. Simple or easily guessable passwords can compromise your security. Furthermore, not having multifactor authentication in place is risky. For instance, if someone gains access to your WordPress account, having an additional layer of authentication adds an extra level of security.

Technological tools business owners can leverage on

South African businesses can leverage a variety of technologies to enhance their operations and growth. According to research, some of the key technologies include:

  1. Cloud Computing: Cloud services provide scalable and flexible resources, enabling businesses to manage their IT infrastructure efficiently and cost-effectively. Platforms like AWS, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure offer various tools for storage, computing, and analytics.
  2. E-Commerce Platforms: With the rise of online shopping, platforms like Shopify, WooCommerce, and Magento allow businesses to set up online stores, reaching a wider audience and facilitating online transactions.
  3. Mobile Technology: Mobile apps and mobile-friendly websites are crucial for reaching consumers who prefer to shop or engage with businesses via their smartphones. Technologies like Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) and mobile payment solutions (e.g., SnapScan, Zapper) enhance customer experiences.
  4. Digital Marketing Tools: Tools like Google Analytics, Hootsuite, and Mailchimp help businesses analyse customer behavior, manage social media, and run targeted marketing campaigns, improving customer engagement and conversion rates.
  5. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning: AI-driven tools can automate customer service through chatbots, provide personalized recommendations, and enhance decision-making through predictive analytics.
  6. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Systems: CRM systems like Salesforce, HubSpot, and Zoho help businesses manage customer interactions, track sales, and improve customer retention through data-driven insights.
  7. Cybersecurity Solutions: With the increasing threat of cyberattacks, businesses need robust cybersecurity measures. Solutions include firewalls, encryption, multi-factor authentication, and antivirus software.

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