Vodafone Zambia has implored small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to embrace new information technology to boost their businesses and fortify their significant contribution to the economic growth and development of the nation.
Speaking at the 8th Ease of Doing Business Initiative (EDBI) conference in Livingstone, Vodafone Zambia CEO, Lars Stork said: “The SME sector has an important role to play in economic development, poverty reduction & employment creation in developing economies. The sector largely exceeds the average economic growth of national economies in many countries and contributes significantly to employment creation.
“Research shows Information & Communication Technologies (ICTs) have enormous capacity to aid the growth and expansion of SMEs and subsequently amplify their impact on economic growth,” he concluded.
Mr Stork said this during a panel discussion on “Enhancing SME Development” moderated by World Bank Senior Private Sector Specialist, Peter Nuamah. Other panellists included Patrick D. Chisanga, Director General at the Zambia Development Agency; Leonard Mwanza, CEO of the Banking Association of Zambia; and Donia Benmiloud, Team Leader at the Private Enterprise Programme, Zambia (PEPZ).
Mr Stork noted that while ICTs are not a panacea to the challenges SMEs face, it is crucial to recognise that technology is moving at a rate faster than most could imagine and micro-enterprises must leverage this to help catapult them into new markets with new growth opportunities.
“The number of Zambian enterprises who are digitally engaging their customers be it through social media, online advertising or email marketing are the ones being successful. At Vodafone Zambia, we believe that with a robust policy environment and adequate ICT private sector support, small businesses can elevate to what we call ‘The Next Generation SME’.”
The Ease of Doing Business Initiative (EDBI) is a peer-to-peer learning event requested by African countries and supported by the World Bank Group, to facilitate knowledge sharing on doing business reforms.
Vodafone Zambia committed over K200,000 towards the peer-to-peer knowledge sharing experience which was held under the theme ‘Business Reforms for Industrialisation, Value Addition and Job Creation’.