The hidden key to the budget

Lunga Siyo, CEO, Telkom Consumer and Small Business.

Lunga Siyo, CEO, Telkom Consumer and Small Business.

Published Feb 23, 2024


With the 2024 budget set to be tabled this month, speculation is beginning to mount. We have valuable clues from November’s Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement, which showed lacklustre economic growth and a gross revenue gap of R56.8 billion.

The two are closely interlinked—if the economy is misfiring, the government will have less money to fund its programmes, which will either have to be curtailed or borrowing will have to increase.

Lack of economic growth ties the finance minister’s hands. Of course, the solution is for the economy to start growing strongly again, creating jobs and so generating tax revenues. How that’s done is often highly contested, but most economists across the world would agree that a key component is a strong SMME sector.

For example, in Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries, SMMEs are responsible for 60-70% of employment and contribute up to 60% of gross domestic product (GDP).

In South Africa, though, small enterprises only provide 28% of the jobs.

“Here’s one answer to our fiscal woes: if we can only get the country’s SMMEs to perform better, as the National Development Plan hoped, many of the budget challenges we currently face could be solved,” says Lunga Siyo, CEO, Telkom Consumer and Small Business.

He explains that Telkom Business believes so strongly in the potential of the SMME market it has developed solutions to help this vital sector begin realising its potential this year.

The backbone of Telkom Business’s offering is an affordable and reliable connectivity solution tailored for SMMEs.

Connectivity enables SMMEs to access information and services cost-effectively via the cloud, enabling them to improve their value proposition, while digital platforms provide ways to reach out to new market segments and interact directly with customers and business partners. There are many options suitable for SMMEs available.

In addition, Telkom Business offers other basic services that make it easier for SMMEs to get online easily and safely. A key service is cybersecurity, which is highly specialised but essential. Access to alternate power is another way Telkom Business is serving the country’s vital SMMEs.

“The South African e-commerce market is worth around R225 billion, and yet only 20% of SMMEs use e-commerce regularly—that’s a massive untapped opportunity for the taking,” Siyo says. “Based on our extensive in-house customer research, Telkom Business has created a comprehensive offering that makes it easy for SMMEs to enter the e-commerce space.”

These offerings include the free use of YEP!, the Yellow Pages reinvented for the Digital Age, as well as a range of software-as-a-service offerings aimed at helping SMMEs achieve operational excellence. YEP! is complemented by Blaze, a dedicated digital platform that aggregates all the content relevant to SMMEs and their success—events, master classes, podcasts and so on.

The right technology and connective solutions can help SMMEs lower costs, acquire customers more cheaply, access resources and streamline their business processes. In fact, smart use of technology means that SMMEs can disrupt established industries by adopting models that put the customer first.

“SMMEs are vital to our economy’s future growth—and to succeed, they need to be able to take full advantage of the opportunities inherent in digitalisation,” Siyo concludes. “The trouble is that full digital transformation is complex, and SMMEs are often badly placed to make the transition. That’s the thinking behind the tools and support we at Telkom Business have created, and are continually augmenting.

“If business is a race, we aim to be the SMME’s trainer and track shoes.”