Small and Medium sized enterprises the world over are backbone of the economy yet many times have the odds stacked against them on many fronts. Big enterprises often have a technology arsenal at their disposal whether playing in agriculture, manufacturing and even services. In this arsenal you will find Enterprise Resource Planning platforms, Customer Relationship Management portals among others, unique to the industry. The total cost of ownership has been very prohibitive in the past with vendors such as Oracle, Sales Force and SAP creaming the market on deployment and annual license fees.
The landscape is changing with traditional vendors and new entrants now targeting the SME space with affordable cloud based solutions that if adopted and utilized well will help level the playing field by bringing increased efficiency and transparency. Safaricom made a foray into this space with a Sage Pastel play with a promise of more tools to come. I do have my list of favorite locally built services having had a chance to take them for a spin.
Uhasibu makes for an excellent accounting service that does all the heavy lifting in a no frills way and removes the headache of rushing to beat the taxmans deadlines. Their recent release of a project based accounting module extends their utility to the NGO and government sectors that are largely driven by grants.
Electronic commerce is growing and with that comes the need to streamline the often times broken brick and mortar experience and process employed by SME’s. WezaTele in my opinion has shown good growth and market sensitivity in the area of commerce, supply chain and distribution and their partnership with Odoo an ERP provider expands their value proposition.
Payments are a hot space with different service providers attacking the opportunity uniquely. PesaPal, Lipisha and Kopo Kopo are almost constantly on the radar on this front, reducing cost of revenue collection with a layer of service performance analytics.
The service gap opportunity that remains however is one that will shorten the time to payment fulfillment that cripples many SME’s especially when doing high volume business. Large corporations are known to trade on their supplier margins and even fund their growth from the life blood of the SME. This will be a tough one to deploy as it may require legislation that the SME’s have no clout to push for, not to mention banks are not likely easily conform or pressure their big accounts think differently.
With SME’s covering all sectors there is still room for focused retooling of technology to address the numerous niches available, profitably.