GLOBAL ICT giant Huawei and the South African Department of Communications and Digital Technologies have partnered to boost digital skills of micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (SMME) sector.

The initiative, which forms part of the department’s digital entrepreneurship programme and formally launches in July, has already trained more than 200 entrepreneurs.

In the kick-off phase, entrepreneurs were trained in cloud computing and digital marketing.    

The initiative comes at an apt time, with the world having celebrated Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Day on 27 June.

The day is a celebration of the vital role these businesses play in achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). According to the UN, SMMEs account for up to 90% of businesses, 60% to 70% of employment, and half of global GDP.

In emerging market countries like South Africa, they have a particularly important role to play, especially when it comes to addressing high levels of unemployment, slow economic growth, and high levels of inequality.

The South African government has long recognised this, with The National Development Plan (NDP) envisaging that 90% of a targeted 11 million jobs will be generated by small enterprises in 2030.

It’s estimated that South Africa has in excess of 2.6 million entrepreneurs running more than 3.2 million small businesses. 

The majority of these are informal, but the 37% who are registered contribute R2.9 trillion to GDP.

Those small businesses also contribute to about 87% of the employment opportunities in the country.

If they are to play the role they have the potential to, then it’s vital that those SMMEs are digitally empowered and transformed.

Unfortunately, many small businesses may feel out of their depth when it comes to which tools and digital processes to implement.  

As Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies Mondli Gungubele points out, this need for digital empowerment and transformation makes collaborations such as the one between Huawei and his department all the more important.

The involvement of experienced partners in business like Huawei has a significant impact, most importantly in the areas of knowledge sharing and skills building.

“The inclusion of micro and small business in the digital economy is very necessary for an inclusive digital economy and to encourage local innovation.

“This training program has had a significant impact on them, and they highly appreciated the training session and hands-on activities.”

Neo Segone, founder of Real-time Concepts agrees “We need more of this type of training and information for the betterment of SMME`s, this was indeed fruitful.”