SMEs are a critically important part of the economy. However, they are very vulnerable to shocks like load shedding and higher interest rates. A recent Standard Bank SME Summit in partnership with Business Day featured expert speakers providing strategies for SMEs on how to become more resilient and relevant in a new economy.

Entrepreneurs have the power to shape their business and their life. Rather than getting caught up in the day-to-day operations of the business and losing sight of their personal goals and values, they need to take back their power. In addition to clearly defining their vision and values – and them staying true to their value – set boundaries, focus on their strengths, surround themselves with a supportive network, take care of yourself and embrace failure as a learning opportunity.

Tandiwe Njobe, head of Relationship Banking Proposition at Standard Bank revealed that the bank’s purpose is to help drive Africa’s growth and to support SMEs to grow their businesses and become more resilient.

Zanele Njapha, also known as the Unlearning Lady, focused her keynote speech on debunking the myths around co-creation that stop businesses from scaling and growing. She discussed the assumptions we all make, the gig economy and partnerships. Co-creation, she said, results in shared risk, a multiplied impact, amplified reach and higher productivity, all of which will help to take businesses to the next level. She encouraged SMEs to consider utilising the services of freelance talent when additional resources in the business are required and to not let fear keep them from fast-tracking their growth.

Berrie de Jager, head of Natural Resources at Standard Bank said that companies that want to grow need reliable access to affordable electricity. Frequent electricity tariff hikes pose a significant challenge to their sustainability. He noted a rise in the number of businesses offering alternative energy products.

Matthew Cruise, head of Business Intelligence and Public Relations at Hohm Energy cautioned homeowners and businesses to be careful of only using accredited solar installers that are able to provide a certificate of compliance. Businesses also need to get a Small Scale Energy Generation Application from their local municipality. He also advised that those doing solar installations only invest in lithium batteries which have a longer life span. Banks, including Standard Bank, offer various financing options to help pay for these installations.

Across the country, businesses are stepping up to provide solutions to the current energy crisis. Entrepreneur Sarah Collins is the founder and CEO of Wonderbag. She developed the Wonderbag, a powerless, heat-retention cooker which uses insulation to continue cooking food for up to 12 hours without using additional energy, during a period of extended loadshedding. Arion Power is an ICTS and green energy company, which has designed and manufactured products that make internet and green energy technologies accessible to the masses. The company was co-founded by Brian Gadisi and Alan Gie.

Arye Kellman, a creative entrepreneur and co-founder of TILT, gave the closing keynote address during which he offered eight considerations about leading from the front.

To watch the full Standard Bank SME Summit, click here

Image source: Standard Bank SME Summit