Players in the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) sector can enhance and better understand market needs if they embrace digital trading, a report by a local think-tank, SIVIO Institute suggest.
This comes after SIVIO Institute recorded massive revenue losses within the sector during the Covid-19 lockdown period.
The report suggest that due to failure to constantly keep in touch with their clientele during lockdown, 32 percent of SMEs surveyed shutdown their businesses while 62.77 percent of SMEs lost revenue of between USD1,000 and USD3,000.
Presenting the way forward for small enterprises in a world with COVID-19, the institute indicated digital trading as key to customer retainment.
“A key issue for MSMEs coming out of this study was the loss of customers and associated revenue. This issue could be solved with simple training on applications and digital functions that can keep businesses in touch with their customers.
“Contagious diseases such as COVID 19 are predicted by the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board in their 2019 report to be a recurring feature of our future, meaning more preparation is necessary across all sectors to prepare for similar health emergencies. For MSMEs, a new understanding of technology must become the workplace norm,” reads the report.
The report further implies that digital migration of MSMEs will fast track growth within some arms of government as they seek to catch up.
“So, going into the future MSMEs need a new and robust understanding of how to trade on digital markets and improve their access to financial services online. This demand will also affect the line Ministry for MSMES shifting its use of digital technology to create entrepreneurship databases or engage enterprises using digital platforms.
“Their (government arms) use of technology could expand to following up on enterprises using digital technology to ensure that funds disbursed in time of crises reach the right recipients and are spent on the agreed-on initiatives,” suggests the report.
However, fears are that efficient use of digital platforms may be hampered by the age-old Zimbabweans and the question of data affordability.
90% of businesses in Zimbabwe are in the informal sector and the closure of these businesses for several months since the end of March had a significant impact on the productivity of small enterprises.
COVID-19MicroSIVIO InstituteSmall and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs)