SMMEs represent 90% of global businesses and employ over half of workforces. According to the World Bank, formal SMMEs contribute up to 40% of national income (GDP) in emerging economies – and much more when one includes informal SMMEs. If we want to grow our economy, we must support small, medium and micro-enterprises. It’s both a moral and commercial imperative that Axiz has pursued since at least 2004.
Seventeen years ago, Axiz established Ledibogo (‘the bridge’), a programme designed to introduce, enable and grow SMMEs in the technology channel. 2021 has been a very successful year for Ledibogo. We experienced enormous growth among SMMEs, and we launched a new ESD team and SMME Account Manager unit, to help SMMEs transition with the market’s demands.
And it’s a demanding market. Customers expect short-term delivery, higher service levels and more manageable cost models. Vendors want partners with relevant certifications, business skills and long-term relationships. The public sector, a significant supporter of SMMEs, relies on processes that demand substantial accreditation and skillsets.
When on their own, SMMEs can find these barriers very hard to scale. Hence the existence of Ledibogo – it’s how Axiz supports SMMEs participating in the technology channel. Our mission has taken on even greater significance in recent years. As the market expanded into service-delivery models and networked business environments, Axiz also developed beyond distribution to include cloud services and channel collaboration.
Ledibogo stepped up to include SMMEs as participants in these market changes. We empower SMMEs through several strategic engagements.
Developing certifications and skills
Skills development and certifications in the technology channel are always in demand. They can help an SMME provider get a foot in the door. Likewise, the lack of appropriate certified skills can leave an SMME out in the cold. Ledibogo helps SMMEs plan and fund their certifications, matched to vendor and client expectations. We also support business and marketing development training.
Providing financial support
As just mentioned, certification can be expensive. So can upfront investments for projects, and some vendors place a big onus on the financial resources of partners. Yet SMMEs are very conscious of cashflow, which is why many prefer transactional deals, and it’s a gauntlet for them to secure financial support such as from banks. At Axiz, we provide financial support for SMMEs, based on close collaboration regarding their needs and prospects.
Matching vendor requirements
Vendor relationships can make or break SMME providers, yet they are also a gamble for a small company putting too many eggs in one basket. As Ledibogo, we leverage the close-knit relationships between Axiz and vendors to translate their requirements into engagement opportunities for SMMEs. We help SMME partners achieve appropriate vendor certifications. We also engage with vendors offering development programmes and boot camps, co-ordinating their efforts with willing and able SMMEs.
Linking transactional and specialist SMMEs
Some SMMEs operate as specialists, diving deep into technology offerings. Others prefer to focus on selling products and solutions on a more surface level. Both parties are crucial for delivering appropriate solutions to customers. We utilise the Ledibogo programme and the Axiz Business Platform to encourage and create partnerships between different SMMEs. Whether it’s a long-term engagement or per-project horizon, we want SMMEs to network and work together.
Opportunities via the Axiz Business Platform
The Axiz Business Platform sits at the heart of our business. It’s much more than a procurement portal: The business platform is a space for our partners to network, market their services and access more to offer to their customers. Whether an SMME wants to expand its transactional business, add more services and annuity income streams, or expand into the rapidly growing world of cloud solutions, the Axiz Business Platform serves as a meeting point for all those opportunities and more. As Ledibogo, we facilitate engagement with the digital team so SMMEs empower themselves on our platform.
Seventeen years and counting – Ledibogo is a success for Axiz and the South African technology channel. But we’re only getting started, and 2021 has been a hallmark year in terms of our success. As Axiz adapts to a changing technology market, we commit to bringing SMMEs along.