INTERNET: Websites Keeps 1 Out Of 5 SMEs Alive
Recent Gauteng Business News
One out of every five small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in South Africa would not be able to survive if they did not have a website.
This is one of the startling findings delivered so far by the 2012 edition of the annual SME Survey, which focuses on assessing the factors behind SME competitiveness. The interim findings of the survey - it has reached the halfway mark - were presented by the survey's principal analyst, Arthur Goldstuck, at the launch of the Woza Online project last week.
"Having an online presence has never been more vital to the long term sustainability of a business, as the general publics access to the Internet continues to accelerate," he said. He pointed out that SMEs have quickly realised the value of having their own website, with some 65% of formal South African SMEs reporting that they have an online presence.
Even more interesting is the response we have received from a full 20% of those surveyed, who said that their businesses would not have been possible without a website.
To put this into perspective, Elizabeth Thabethe, Deputy Minister for the Department of Trade and Industry has stated that around nine million people in South Africa are employed by SMEs. In other words, had these SMEs not had an online presence, a further 1.8 million people would potentially be unemployed.
SME Project Looks to Boost Online Presence for Businesses
While many SMEs may have recognised the importance of on online presence, many are still put off by the cost and complexity of building and operating a website. However, a joint initiative by government and the private sector has now been launched with the aim of mitigating these issues. Woza Online is a joint initiative by Google, the Department of Trade and Industry, Vodacom and the Human Resources Development Council.
The project aims to bring thousands of SMEs online by enabling them to create their own websites and develop an online presence, at no cost, in under an hour. It is hoped that this project will stimulate the SME sector, accelerating the ability of SMEs to effectively reach their audience.
Speaking at the Woza Online launch event, Goldstuck, who is also the MD of research firm World Wide Worx, said that the project was a fantastic opportunity for SMEs.
The interim results of the 2012 SME Survey have already indicated that there is a strong link between being online and being competitive, profitable and sustainable. Some 79% of SMEs with a website reported profitability, whereas only 59% of SMEs without a website reported the same, explains Goldstuck.
Clearly these findings highlight the benefits of being online for SMEs. Now Woza Online means that small businesses across the country can join the digital revolution, at no expense. Interim results of the survey have also shown that a company website, as well as the use of cloud computing, is closely correlated with being highly competitive and strongly profitable.
SME Website Stats
He adds that those SMEs in business for 10 years or longer are far more likely (72%) to have websites than relatively new businesses, indicating that the survey shows that of those operating for less than three years, just 46% are online.
Since it is the older businesses that tend to have the websites, it seems obvious that for a new SME to obtain the same advantages, it is crucial for it to build an online presence as quickly as possible. Also, since the majority of those online are saying they are very profitable, SMEs should take advantage of the opportunity presented by Woza Online. After all, there is little doubt that an effective online presence is the key to a successful business. Such success will, in turn, have a positive impact on the SA economy as a whole, he concludes.
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