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Future-proofing your business when everything is changing [Opinion] –

Who knew a year ago, when we left our offices “for a couple of weeks” to work from home, how different our lives and our businesses would be now?



Who knew a year ago, when we left our offices “for a couple of weeks” to work from home, how different our lives and our businesses would be now?

As business owners, we were forced to adapt, often with more emphasis on haste than humanity

We were in do or die mode, with every part of our business undergoing an unexpected and violent facelift. We stopped commuting unnecessarily, face to face contact was de-prioritised for a mode of operation that was contact-proof and we became location agnostic.

So, what does this mean for our business today? And how can we future proof it to best be prepared for whatever comes next?

Well, first we need to look at where we are before we know where we are headed next.

We used to take the serendipity of everyday interactions for granted — the breaks they provided us, the relief and energy they restored as we move from task to task, transitioning between physical spaces. Something as simple as a daily commute or a walk to the nearest coffee shop gave us time to think, time to process, and prioritise. That time is all gone. We’re in constant go-mode and we now need to schedule time in our calendars for lunch or a tea break. The assumption is that because we are always at home, we are free, but we are not.

Businesses are now starting to see the serious knock-on effects as teams that thrived on the ebb and flow of productivity, collaboration, and time to breathe, are now being crushed by external pressures. People are burning out faster than companies and clients can put gas in the tank.

We’re being conditioned to ‘over-communicate’ as new channels seem to open up every day. We’re forced to join Whatsapp, Slack, Teams, Zoom, Workplace, and a hundred other platforms and be on them 24/7.

It’s bubbling up into communication fatigue as they all fire off at once. There’s only so much we can deal with before we succumb to information and cognitive overload. There are only so many decisions we can make in a day. We’re headed for a global scale burnout.

Coupled with this is digital bloat. Every other business is creating the “next thing“due to our new climate. That’s a lot of “next things”, and odds are, we’re duplicating efforts and ultimately wasting energy. Would it not be more effective if we concentrated our efforts? That’s what labs around the world have done to speed up the creation of a COVID vaccine. Joining forces, dividing — and then ultimately conquering. Once.

Once we’ve all burnt out, and the world has no choice but to return to a slower pace, there will be a resurgence in the ‘slow movement’ again — food, experiences, friendships. The hype and the hysteria need to subside and people will realise they’re resilient — that they’re more than just their businesses or their jobs. There’s more to life. We’re burning through our years and our opportunities for an experience like jet fuel at this rate. We’ll all end up back at a more realistic pace anyway… so why succumb to unnecessary damage now?

So, with all this insight into the now, what does this mean for how we build our businesses for the future? We may not know where exactly we will be in a year or five years, but there are steps we can make now to ensure that we are building sustainable businesses that will still be there then.

1.Stop, pause and reflect.

Think twice and act once. Do not aim to do it all, just do enough at an infinitely maintainable pace.

2.Learn to say no

We need to learn to say no and to take a break. And empower your employees as well. Just because we can fit another meeting slot in our calendars, doesn’t mean we should.

3.Don’t over-communicate

Communicate just as much as you see fit for your particular situation, business, or structure.

4.Partner, don’t reinvent

Have an idea for the “next big thing”? Stop it! Reach out. You’d be surprised what you find. Combine your forces for good and we shall all prevail.

5.Scale with technology in mind, but with people at heart.

While the all-seeing AI and its machines are what will ultimately save us, remember, people are at the heart of everything. If we destroy our people by making things to serve them — well… we’re creating a bubble that’s bound to burst on itself.

6.Grow where you are planted.

Do not live reactively. Do what you’re good at–what you were put on this earth to do. In a time where pivoting is the new normal, there are only so many ways that you can diversify your core competencies.

7.Most importantly, breathe.

Let your calendar stretch a little. Look after yourself, your family, health, and wellbeing. Besides, none of us are good to anyone else dead, right?

This article was written by Fabio Longano, CEO and founder of TouchFoundry.

Featured image: Fabio Longano, CEO and founder of TouchFoundry.

So, what does this mean for our business today? And how can we future proof it to best be prepared for whatever comes next?




West African tech startup launches app in Gabon 

West African tech startup Gozem has announced the launch of ‘Super App’ taxi booking service in Libreville enabling consumers to travel with ease.



West African tech startup Gozem has announced the launch of ‘Super App’ taxi booking service in Libreville, Gabon.

Gozem launches Super App in Gabon

Cecilia Kouna, Deputy Country Manager of Gozem Gabon comments on the launch of the service in Libreville.

“We’re very excited to start our operations in Gabon with a simplified, safer, and more convenient taxi booking solution. We’re confident that this innovation will create real value for passengers and drivers in the Gabonese market. And very soon afterward, we’ll continue to add value by expanding the range of services Gozem offers in Gabon to include delivery services and more.”

Gozem’s Super App in Libreville

The launch of the taxi booking service will enable Libreville residents to take trips in the capital of the nation by simply downloading the free app which is available on Android and iOS devices.

The launch of the app will not only enable Libreville residents to travel with ease but also provide an opportunity for drivers to secure an income. Functioning similarly to Uber, the Gozem Super App is easy to use and a customer must simply open the app, enter their location, select their desired destination, and request a ride with the nearest Gozem driver being alerted to pick them up.

According to Gozem, at the end of the trip, the app calculates the price based on the distance travelled with the assistance of its built-in GPS technology.

Customers will be able to pay for the rides in cash, Airtel Money, Moov Money, or by credit card.

Raphael Dana, co-founder of Gozem explains that this is the first of many steps for the tech startup in its African expansion.

“We’re proud to offer this high quality, everyday service that responds to the needs of the Gabonese population while continuing to expand Gozem in the region. Our ambition is to consolidate our status as the premier super app in Africa, and this expansion to Central Africa, our first foray outside of West Africa, also allows us to prepare our upcoming expansion to Cameroon.”

(Supplied)Gozem Super App

Gozem launched its Super App in 2020 that offers a suite of services to Sub-saharan Africans. The African tech startup’s suite of services provides access to transport, eCommerce payments, delivery, and financial services for its users. The app is available on Android and iOS.


Read more: SA software company Dineplan partners with Google
Read more: Applications for Google for Startups Accelerator Programme are open

Featured image: Gozem, Facebook



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Ajua acquires Kenyan fintech WayaWaya 

Ajua has acquired  WayaWaya, the Kenya-based Artificial Intelligence [AI] and Machine Learning [ML] known for its innovative Janja platform.



Nairobi-based Ajua, the integrated Customer Experience Management solution for businesses in Africa, has acquired WayaWaya, the Kenya-based Artificial Intelligence [AI] and Machine Learning [ML] known for its innovative Janja platform.

WayaWaya’s innovative platform enables borderless banking and payments across apps and social media platforms for an undisclosed sum.

Ajua acquires WayaWaya to help SMEs improve their customer experience

Kenfield Griffith, founder, and CEO of Ajua comments on the acquisition.

“The acquisition of WayaWaya is an important milestone for us, as we make a significant leap in ensuring the customer experience journey for businesses across the continent is seamless. Integrating WayaWaya’s technology significantly complements our product suite and gives us the ability to automate our clients’ businesses and grow their revenues, which is an extremely powerful proposition for our customers of all sizes, across Africa. From our experience in this area, we understand the CX fundamentals that drive growth for our customers and we want to bring this intelligence to SMEs across the continent.”

By acquiring WayaWaya, Ajua will integrate the Kenyan fintechs’ product to automate its customer experience journey into its product stack. This patented and unique smart AI and ML product built by WayaWaya will provide SMEs the ability to automate responses.

Businesses will now be able to make use of the intelligent messaging through a number of social platforms such as Facebook messenger, Telegram, WhatsApp, and others. It further enables consumers to conduct cross-border payments and automate customer support.

“The additional reach this acquisition brings allows Ajua to scale significantly within the SME vertical, as we provide our customers today, and in the future, the tools they need to grow in Africa and beyond. We continue to be bullish on the point that customer experience and customer engagement are the engine for growth for businesses across the continent and they are disciplines that are critical factors in driving productivity and revenue growth,” adds Griffith.

Ajua (Supplied)Ajua

Founded in 2012, Ajua is an Integrated Customer Experience platform for businesses on the continent. The innovative company combines both technology and the customer experience. Ajua has created several products that provide real-time customer feedback at the point of service, for small and large businesses across the continent.

Ajua overall aims to digitise and grow African SMEs with its service and product offerings as it uses data and analytics to connect companies with their customers in real-time. This service provides SMEs with the tools to improve their customer knowledge and experience with the overall impact resulting in SMEs increase of sales.

Teddy Ogallo, founder of WayaWaya and new VP of Product APIs and Integrations for Ajua comments on the acquisition.

“Ajua’s focus on introducing and scaling customer service and customer experience for the continent – and essentially how they help businesses deliver excellence for their customers – is something my team and I have long admired. Seeing how WayaWaya’s technology can complement Ajua’s innovative products and services, and help scale and monetize businesses, is an exciting opportunity for us, and we are happy that our teams will be collaborating to build something unique for the continent”.

Read more: West African tech startup launches SaaS solution for African micro retailers
Read more: Flutterwave and Worldpay partner to improve online card payments for eCommerce businesses in SA and Nigeria

Featured image: Ajua (Supplied)



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Liquidations rise by 49% year-on-year SMMEs hit the hardest –

Released on 26 April 2021, the report shows that 216 companies liquidated in March this year, compared to 178 the month before – a 21% jump.



Despite being over its second wave, the South African economy continues to struggle, brand-new data by Statistics South Africa indicates. Released on 26 April 2021, the report shows that 216 companies liquidated in March this year, compared to 178 the month before – a 21% jump.

This is almost 50% higher than March last year. Business consultants are concerned about smaller businesses, which bear the brunt of the hardship, and have developed some lifelines to help them through

Despite economic improvements, the situation in South Africa remains precarious, StatsSA’s latest Statistics of Liquidations and insolvencies report confirms. The figures have revealed the number of liquidations between March last year and the same month this year jumped by 49%. Compared to the second month of this year, this figure is 21% higher.

All in all, the total number of liquidations increased by 18.9% in the first quarter of 2021 compared with the first quarter of 2020, StatsSA says. Of all sectors, financing, insurance, real estate, business services (77 liquidations), trade, catering, and accommodation (47), and manufacturing (10) are the hardest hit.

Business consultants say the hardship is a direct result of the past year and affects smaller companies the most. “It is not that more companies suddenly found themselves in trouble. Many of the businesses that have folded in March this year, in all likelihood mostly smaller and medium-sized businesses, have struggled for many months before having to close, if not longer,” says Lings Naidoo, co-founder of BeyondCOVID.

Launched last year during the hard lockdown, the BeyondCOVID Business Survey, conducted by specialist management consultancy Redflank, aims to evaluate the impact of the pandemic on SMMEs in particular. “Our research has shown that smaller, micro, and medium-sized businesses, in general, are 26 times more likely to close their doors in times of economic upheaval than their corporate counterparts.”

As such, 26% of SMMEs that participated in the survey had to close during the lockdown, temporarily or permanently, the BeyondCOVID Business Survey shows. In addition, 54% of respondents said they were working below their usual capacity, and a third expressed they needed funding to continue to trade.

BeyondCOVID, as a registered non-profit company, is determined to help businesses cope with whatever is coming their way this year and beyond, over and above, providing them with trends, forecasts, and information they can use to develop survival strategies. The initiative is, for instance, creating an enabling and supportive framework to help SMMEs scale, grow and mitigate obstacles. “We want to be part of the solution by making SMMEs more resilient and less vulnerable to economic shocks, whether it is a pandemic or a global financial crisis,” says Naidoo.

“We plan to do this by using our networks within the private and public sector to leverage funding and investments whilst providing access to resources, services, and technology to make them more robust, sustainable, and bankable.”

Naidoo explains that, so far, BeyondCOVID has engaged with Chambers of Commerce and various other players whilst organising smaller ventures into risk-sharing structures. “These are known as SMME Collectives and are supported by BeyondCOVID’s networks, services, and technological innovations.”

“It is true what they say: safety in numbers, also for businesses,” he adds. “Being part of a bigger organisation that has the means individual smaller companies lack, creates more stability. This is exactly what businesses and South Africa need in uncertain times. Covid-19 will be here to stay for a while. We need to work with, not fight, this reality.”

This article was written by Lings Naidoo, co-founder of BeyondCOVID.

Featured image: Lings Naidoo (Supplied)



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