Telkom Group CEO designate Serame Taukobong has no plans to stop focusing on supporting and building the SMME sector. The company announced this week that Taukobong, who heads up Telkom consumer business, will replace Sipho Maseko, who will be leaving Telkom next year.
Taukobong, who is currently the CEO of Telkom’s consumer business, plans on sticking with the company’s winning formula, which includes keeping SMMEs as a focal point. He told Vutivi News that SMEs were the economic backbone of the most developed countries and South Africa was no different. “… we want to play our part in growing SMEs. Our wider mission is to contribute to growing the South African economy by allowing small businesses to thrive and contribute more,” Taukobong said.
“Right now, SMEs probably contribute around 25% towards our GDP. We think it should be around 40- 50%, inline developed economies, where small businesses are the main driver for growth” Taukobong said SME market share growth would be delivered through a better focus on SME needs and how the company serviced them.
“Previously Telkom had three divisions within the Group that were servicing the Small and Medium businesses. Now we have combined these into a single entity Telkom Business which has evolved into a Digital Market Place known as Yep specifically geared towards SMEs,” explained Taukobong.
He said that by empowering SMMEs, Telkom sought to help businesses get connected, growing its customer base, and providing small and medium businesses with communication capabilities through mobile and fixed-line solutions. “To succeed in a time of digital migration, SMMEs need to be able to do business anytime and anywhere. Through Telkom Business our mission is to ensure that small and medium businesses do not get left behind,” Taukobong said.
Also, the company had women entrepreneurs firmly in its sights. It aimed to ensure that women were supported to scale their businesses. He said that via Telkom’s FutureMakers programme, it was supporting SME’s through its supply chain and other interventions.
“In the past financial year, we procured about R11-billion of products and services from enterprises that were more than 30% black women-owned.” Taukobong told Vutivi News.
“We believe in the economic participation of women as this has a multiplier effect in economies that has been proven all over the world. As a group, we also procured R3.5-billion of products and services from SMEs.” He said the company would partner with more SMEs through its FutureMakers programme and procurement services to increase these numbers.
“We see SMEs as both partners in our journey to be more innovative and as valued customers,” Taukobong said. Taukobong assumes his new role in October. He and Maseko plan on working closely together before he leaves at the end of June next year.