Developing small businesses digitally

At the training session of GIFT Foundation is Nobukhosi Dlamini, founder and executive director (left) and Akhona Phitsane, deputy director of Destea PHOTO: Tsakane Mpikwane

A digital enablement training programme for small business owners of Bloemfontein and surrounding towns was held by the GIFT Foundation on Sunday, 6 December 2020.

Nobukhosi Dlamini, founder of the foundation, said the curriculum they presented is designed to help business owners to be more confident in promoting their business and to develop a clear idea around who their target market is.

The foundation’s mission was to assist them to pivot and diversify their business – from running physical or brick-n-mortar businesses to driving online businesses, marketing and transacting online.

“We help small business owners understand the value of doing business online and help them with strategies that they can implement in migrating from physical to digital. We then take them through the various digital platforms, help them understand how to use them for business purposes and then assist them step by step to set up their business online and create their own websites,” Dlamini said.

She added that the Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on small businesses. “They are the bloodline of our economy. Our commitment is to help small business owners to recover from the pandemic, to reconnect with their customers, and to also attract more customers that may even be outside of Bloemfontein or the Free State.”

The programme was developed and delivered by the GIFT Foundation with the support of the UK South Africa Tech Hub. They partnered with a local organisation called Impact Spaces to help, as well as with the Department of Small Business Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (Destea), who assisted them by getting word out to small business owners to apply for the training.

According to Dlamini the attendees are all now active on digital platforms. “They all also have websites created. They have created digital marketing material using online design platforms to promote their business. Some of them have already reported connecting to new customers and securing sales from the digital channels we have introduced them to.”

She added, “We are going to continue with further virtual training for the next few months so that these business owners become very proficient and comfortable operating online. We will continue sharing strategies and tools that are available to assist them. We will also be holding one-on-one coaching sessions to address specific problems or challenges that each business owner might be having.

Furthermore, we hope to continue training other cohorts of small business owners from the Free State in the future.”

Heidre Malgas