The idea of revolutionising township and rural businesses, through the digitization of their products and services, was conceptualised by Jonathan Naidoo, CEO of SmartXchange. The call for a national lockdown forced businesses to halt trading, with a resultant loss of income, which impacted negatively on their sustainability. Township businesses specifically were unable to operate, while their counterparts in urban areas continued business with online sales supported by reliable internet connectivity.
As the impact on township businesses became more obvious, it was clear that the lack of participation in a digital economy was the crippling factor which contributed to the inability to trade, deliver and market products and services. The SiYa DiGiTiza Project was thus conceptualised as an enabler that would boost township businesses and ensure their sustainability and growth.
SmartXchange rallied a team of vibrant young innovators to co-create a solution that would lead to and enhance the visibility of small business on an online platform, allowing them to trade, grow and become financially stronger.
The four-day Pilot Programme was rolled out by the team from SmartXchange in Phoenix, Inanda, Ntuzuma and KwaMashu (PINK) Precinct on 19 to 22 October 2020 and it was supported by the eThekwini Municipality and the Moses Kotane Institute. This Pilot Programme was hugely successful as SMMEs streamed in to register their companies on the online digital platforms.
The innovators and participants on the SiYa DiGiTiza Project Team are all SMMEs who are incubates who are being funded and supported by SmartXchange to roll out this project that seeks to digitize 1000 companies in the first phase. The companies that are directly involved in the digitization are SMEPlus and Tag Your Delivery. The project is further supported by media companies Mzansi Smart Online TV, EITA Township Digital Radio Station, BlaqLife Radio and TV, Innovation DNA and Gabisa TV, who will provide online marketing exposure for the digitized businesses.
The project is underpinned by an internet connectivity solution from AdNotes who will provide efficient, reliable and cheap internet connectivity to township and rural areas using TV White Spaces.
SMEPlus has developed an exciting Digital Business Directory (DBD) built to help small businesses grow their customers on an online platform. Their mission is to make sure township businesses are digitized and listed on the DBD. This is achieved through consultation with SMMEs in terms of checking their compliance and assessing their business processes. Following on this consultation, they are then listed on the directory and offered a business management app to help them run their business smoothly. The directory maintains its effectiveness through delisting all non-compliant and inactive SMMEs, thus guaranteeing that all the buyers get to procure from credible businesses.
Customers are also allowed to rate the quality of services/products which will serve as a good indicator to other potential customers. All the data is stored in a highly secure server supported by a backup server to make sure that everything works regardless of any unplanned challenges.
Tag Your Delivery is an online goods and service delivery mobile and web based application system that makes it possible for people to order products of their choice online from several selections of products and professional services that are available on the business mobile app and website. Tag Your Delivery stands to serve township and rural businesses in a bid to enhance their online presence. Their aim is also to empower township and rural businesses, bridging the technological divide between them, their customers and large enterprises.
AdNotes is a telecom company licensed by ICASA to operate and provide internet services using TV White Spaces (TVWS) where TVWS refers to the unused TV channels in any given area. With AdNotes TVWS deployment, these vacant channels can be converted into wireless broadband internet. This innovative technology can connect unconnected communities in the rural and township areas. The provision of this level of connectivity will enable township and rural economies to operate effectively on digital platforms.
Mzansi Smart TV is an online TV channel that aims to expose local content to the world. With a current following of 3 000 viewers on their social media platforms they boast viewership of over 6000 on their TV channel. Their role in the SiYa DiGiTiza campaign is to expose local businesses to the broader market, by filming and marketing their businesses on their online television station and social media sites, guaranteeing them visibility and leveraging their marketability in the digital space.
BLaqLife is a leading local broadcaster catering for music fans through music, TV, artist interviews, exclusive downloads and events coverage. It is a platform where creative inspiration meets technological innovation, whilst strengthening the civic and cultural life of the communities they serve. BlaqLife will support the SiYa DiGiTiza campaign through the marketing exposure it will provide to the participating small businesses.
Innovation DNA specialises in visual content creation and distribution. The company is supporting the SiYa DiGiTiza campaign through their Innovation DNA capability which will focus on documenting innovative businesses in rural and township economies through in-depth interviews. The aim of Innovation DNA is to capture the journey of SMMEs, profiling their successes stories and providing insight on challenges and how to overcome them as they traverse this challenging landscape.
Eita Township Digital Radio is an online based township radio, currently situated in Durban Central focusing on township life. Eita Radio is the Townships’ First Voice and it will support the SiYa DiGiTiZa Project by providing coverage on township SMMEs, business events and related activities.
Gabisa TV is a multimedia communications services company that specialises in television & video production. The television channel will cover the SiYa DiGiTiZa Project and profile SMMEs.
The project is well placed to bridge the gap between the township/rural and urban divide and will play a pivotal role in sustaining the historically marginalised township and rural economies. There is a need to reach out to more townships and rural enterprises as there is a clear demand for the technological offerings of the project. This uniquely orchestrated game changer offers township and rural SMMEs a better prospect for economic growth and job creation by using a bottom up approach to bring historically neglected areas into the main -stream economy. Project SiYa DiGiTiZa will allow millions of township and rural based SMMEs to use technology to grow their businesses and transform them by giving them access to greater economic opportunities, learning, information and services.
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