New service to help African small businesses establish online presence

By Thembelihle Mkhonza Time of article published44m ago

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JOHANNESBURG – Website builder BaseKit will partner with Liquid Telecom to provide a website and e-commerce builder to customers of the African telecoms provider.

In a statement on Wednesday, Liquid Telecom said the service would be available in South Africa, Kenya and Zimbabwe.

Liquid Telecom said its aim was to help thousands of businesses establish a presence online and to furnish its business customers with a “virtual workplace with tools designed to keep their business operating from anywhere”.

The group’s chief digital officer, David Beh, said: “Our business customers are incredibly important to us and we want to make their lives as easy as possible. Trading conditions are challenging in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. We hope that by helping businesses find other ways of trading, they stand a greater chance of success.”

Consulting firm McKinsey expects the entire African continent to feel the effects of economic contraction, with South Africa and Kenya likely to struggle to escape the downturn. Even pre-pandemic, as many as 70% of South Africa’s emerging small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) failed within the first two years. And yet, there’s a glimmer of hope.

E-commerce revenues are rising. While the rate of growth tends to be slower in Zimbabwe, the market is anticipated to grow, with urban areas in particular displaying the most positive vital signs.

In South Africa in 2020, e-commerce revenues were projected to hit more US$4 billion, a year-on-year growth rate of 24%. In Kenya the figure was expected to rise to 65.3% year-on-year growth, with e-commerce revenues anticipated to reach US$1,093 million this year.

BaseKit CEO Simon Best said: “We are thrilled to partner with Liquid Telecom. 2020 has been a difficult year for many businesses, especially those in retail. Lockdowns around the globe prevented people from living, working and doing business in the ways they were used to. With traditional routes to market thrown into jeopardy, we believe we can help small businesses survive and even thrive online. We’re excited to begin this new venture and to help serve Liquid’s business customers.”

In 2019, smartphone penetration in South Africa hit 91.2%. With BaseKit’s website builder able to be used on a mobile phone, the stage is set for more entrepreneurs than ever to get their businesses online.

– African News Agency (ANA); Editing by Yaron Blecher

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