By Traci Maynard, Executive: Edge Consumer Software and Hardware and HPE Business Unit Manager at Axiz

SMEs are critical for economic growth, and their development should be a priority. Many of us agree with this statement. Some already prioritise the inclusion of smaller companies from the technology channel. For example, public sector projects often require or strongly prefer to include SME suppliers.

But while the will is there, finding the way can still be difficult. Several issues challenge SMEs that want to become participants in larger technology projects. Skills, financial resources, thin track records and growth risks can conspire to hold an SME back. To break this cycle, Axiz has created Ledibogo Direct, an SME programme that works alongside our vendor partner Micro Focus to help SMEs reach their next level of growth.

Ledibogo is a comprehensive approach to help SMEs participate in larger contracts and grow their operations. The programme’s pillars illustrate our focus areas: incubation, joint engagements, enablement, financial leverage, logistics support, business tools and marketing.

For this column, I want to highlight concepts that tie into those pillars, and cover some of the questions we receive about the programme. If you represent a channel SME looking for growth or a vendor interested in an SME enablement programme, please read on.

Reaching the next level

Ledibogo doesn’t target start-ups. It is for established SME businesses looking for additional support to move into the next tier of what they offer to customers. Since we partner with Micro Focus on this specific programme, Ledibogo focuses on Micro Focus products and services. Through this specialised approach, Micro Focus can fund the programme while Axiz manages and administers it.

Focus on the vendor’s stack

Major vendors often form the cornerstone for large IT projects, but such projects can struggle to find suitable SME partners with the right skills and product knowledge. This motivates why Ledibogo is vendor-specific: it helps SMEs align with what a vendor’s market requires. The partnership between Axiz and Micro Focus lets Ledibogo cater to the latter’s product set and customers. Its specific goal is to develop channel providers that deliver Micro Focus solutions on their own or as part of more extensive collaborations.

Financial and stock assistance

You are probably wondering: why not just use a vendor SME development programme? Ledibogo proposes a different approach that uses Axiz’s capacity as a distributor and technology marketplace. While the programme focuses on one vendor, projects often need other components that complement the core deliverables. As a distributor, we support SMEs in selecting the best combination of products and services for a job. We also help them navigate unexpected problems that can crush a smaller company, such as exchange rate fluctuations, stock shortages or financing risks.

Focused training

Skills and certifications are expensive and time-consuming, not to mention fraught with headhunting. They are often a big reason why SMEs don’t sufficiently grow and invest in a vendor’s ecosystem. Yet vendors love to see that level of commitment, so Ledibogo closes the gap by funding and providing training specific to Micro Focus solutions. We don’t fund general training – if someone wants to study for an MBA, that isn’t part of our scope. But we cater to vendor training and help the SME establish ways to retain talent, such as work-back periods.

Tender support

Micro Focus works closely with the public sector, including a framework agreement with the state’s technology procurement authority, SITA. State tenders often require including an SME partner, but they also want providers with the capacity and track record to deliver. Large private sector projects are not dissimilar. It puts SMEs between a rock and a hard place: how do you build that track record if you can’t win the jobs that create a track record? Part of Ledibogo’s goal is to establish such a group of SMEs that can deliver and thus be candidates when larger providers look for smaller partners.

Axiz designed Ledibogo Direct to streamline SME development and growth in the channel. It provides a model for vendors to stoke the fires of smaller companies while leaning on Axiz to handle administration, financing and due diligence. We have staff dedicated specifically to the programme, and we conduct quarterly reviews and regular joint engagements. We account for all the money Micro Focus provides to develop SMEs.

It’s been a great success so far, and it’s something Axiz wants to grow and duplicate with more SMEs and vendors. As we continue our journey of becoming an integrated digital business, we combine our distribution, marketplace, cloud and industry expertise to create a central hub where SMEs flourish, and vendors find the partners they require.

If you want to learn more, please get in touch with us at [email protected] Join Ledibogo and become a significant supplier of Micro Focus solutions, or meet with us to explore other opportunities. Together, we can build the channel and help channel SMEs reach the next level!