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New chat-based service launches to assist SA SMMEs

SMMEstart, a new chat-based service that provides assistance in the form of valuable information, guidance, and access to business resources and tools for local SMMEs has launched. 

 SMMEstart is a Whatsapp chat-based service to assist local SMMEs

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Accessible via popular instant-messaging platform Whatsapp, SMMEstart has been developed by in partnership with Arifu and Jozihub with funding support from

The new chat-based service aims to provide assistance to local businesses and help them recover from the devastating economic effects of the pandemic. 

How does SMMEstart work?

SMMEstart service can be activated by SMME business owners by accessing Whatsapp and texting the word ‘hi’ +27 60 011 0110 or by simply clicking on this link

The service is available 24 hours a day and is free of charge except for the data charges incurred by utilising Whatsapp. 

After conducting an in-depth research report on the needs of local micro, small and medium-sized businesses, SMMEstart concluded that most of the businesses surveyed were severely financially impacted by the pandemic. 

In a press statement, SMMEstart provides insight into the critical findings gathered from the survey. 

“Most respondents indicated that COVID-19 illuminated a need for business skills, predominantly skills relating to implementing sustainable, online business opportunities and digital marketing. Respondents also indicated difficulty in understanding or accessing relief opportunities and found that they were not properly compliant in order to access or apply for the relief offered. The respondents further indicated a need for assistance in navigating legal matters as well as with their business strategy and growth.”

SMMEstart (Supplied)

What does the service offer?

The valuable findings gathered from the survey were used to construct the content offered on SMMEstart chat-based service and include the following: 

  • Financial – Find and learn how to apply for both government and private sector financial relief resources available as well as accounting guidelines and information to help businesses through Covid-19 and beyond. 
  • Grow – Access free resources to grow your knowledge – including free downloadable books and extensive digital marketing skills training to help businesses grow, despite challenging times. 
  • Tax – Guidance on how to be tax compliant. This is key to accessing SARS Covid-19 relief measures and unlocking new business opportunities. 
  • Marketing – Understand and implement marketing that can help businesses survive and thrive through this time. 
  • Legal – Guidance on the new legal dimensions that Covid-19 has brought about to the way businesses operate – as well as other important legal obligations pertaining to micro, small and medium-sized businesses. 
  • Health- Access important Covid-19 information. How best to take care of one’s health and the health of your employees – from keeping healthy during Covid-19 to stress reduction and other areas that contribute to the ongoing success of SMMEs.
  • News- Keeping users up-to-date on Covid-19 news, including steps being taken by the government for business relief and current regulations around reducing the pandemic, as well as news of interest to SMMEs.
  • Free resources that SMMEstart is sourcing to help businesses recover and grow. These will be added to the service and frequently updated as more resources are identified and partnerships entered into with other organisations willing to play a role in helping SMMEs through COVID-19 and beyond. 
  • A sharing function that gives people the ability to easily share the service with other business owners.

As a live service, SMMEstart has shared in reports that additional resources will be added over a period of time to cater to the changing needs of its users. 

According to a press statement, SMMEstart will add a new feature in the weeks ahead. Titled Talk, the feature will allow users to share their business stories and engage with the SMMEstart helpdesk to ask questions or request additional services, info, or support. 

Read more: New fintech startup launches SA’s first Open Bank offering
Read more: OceanHub African accelerator programme applications open

Featured image: Dimitri Karastelev via Unsplash

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