By: Tebogo Mokwena
Small business owners in South Africa believe that upskilling themselves and their companies, learning to adjust and adapt, and investing in technological developments, will build resilience for their businesses in the next decade. This is in response to a report recently released by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), which showed that local businesses were facing challenges in building resilience in uncertain economic conditions. PwC’s South Africa Economic Outlook 2023 report showed that local businesses were dealing with climate change, technological disruption, demographic shifts and social instability.
The report follows the release of PwC’s 26th Annual Global CEO Survey earlier this year which showed that two out of five South African respondents believe that their companies will no longer be economically viable in the next decade. Mamello Mofokeng, whose fintech business Asiyesonke connects customer data with premium payments for small funeral parlours, told Vutivi News that she had undertaken various upskilling programmes every six months since the company was founded in 2020.
This assisted the company in venturing into new avenues and diversifying its products and services. It had also invested in technological developments by introducing an automated financial management system. “Businesses need to understand how developing technologies can benefit the business, as well as understanding the business’ key needs,” she pointed out. Nokwanda Mngadi, who owns Afrotexture which is an organic and traditional haircare line, said that she had worked on the company’s profile by improving its compliance and joining the Johannesburg Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
She was also participating in programmes at the University of Johannesburg and the University of KwaZulu Natal. Tumi Letsaba, who is the CEO of Next Curve Creations and the Motsepe Group’s entrepreneur in residence, said that the company which connected local retail owners with manufacturers of fast-moving consumer goods, had implemented technological solutions like cloud computing and secure e-commerce transactions. This ensured that the business was aligned with current technological trends. The businesses believe that being able to adapt to changing conditions, upskilling business and technical skills, and constantly listening to clients’ feedback, can assist them in building resilience in changing times.
Letsaba said that it was also important for owners to take care of their mental health to ensure their businesses were sustainable. “It is important to care for yourself mentally because at the beginning of the business’ journey, your mental state is your best arsenal,” he said. Mofokeng said that businesses also needed to build collaborations and look for solutions to problems in a proactive manner. The report recommends that in order for businesses to build resilience, leaders must empower employees, build trust in the organisation and establish solid relationships between the supervisors and workers. They must also focus on the risks that might possibly disrupt the most important aspect of operations.