How youth-led (SMEs) in Africa and achieve global success through digitalization platforms

How youth-led (SMEs) in Africa and achieve global success through digitalization platforms

How youth-led small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Africa could achieve global success through digitalization platforms

By: Baker Matovu (Ph.D.)

According to global reports, e.g., those of the World Economic Forum (WEF), it is reported that a large number of businesses (both informal and formal) are categorised as small businesses. The 2022 Global State of Small Business Report clearly puts this into perspective, as it is reported that about 70 percent of businesses in developing countries are small and medium enterprises (SMEs). This implies that small businesses are key to socio-economic development and livelihood welfare, irrespective of the spatial-temporal scale. Of concern, however, is that most of these businesses are highly vulnerable to shocks, and this was clearly evident during the COVID-19 pandemic-induced lockdown. For instance, according to the 2022 UNCTAD report, it was reported that about 19–30 percent of SMEs closed their doors due to the lockdown. Part of the shock was because most of these businesses, e.g., restaurants, in most African countries were and are still mainly relying on non-digital value chain systems that have continuously become outdated in business ecosystems, especially with respect to customer acquisition, marketing, sales, and business matrices, e.g., on market simulations. One may wonder what recovery options or less vulnerable strategies most of the SMEs could adopt to mitigate future economic meltdowns.

In my view, I argue that this could be bridged by leveraging the benefits of small business SEO, which could help SMEs remain competitive. For starters, small business SEO is defined as a new systematic approach in business management that involves the use of digital tools to boost SME business visibility on websites and search engines so as to enable the business to rank highly and competitively related to customer search queries and searches related to the business products being marketed or sold. In other words, small business SEO utilises digital platforms, e.g., social media platforms such as Meta Marketplace, to freely advertise and market goods. This new pathway is crucial, especially in the post-COVID-19 era, because it helps in business recovery by reducing the costs of physical marketing and also increases customer presence, acquisition, and awareness of customer preferences based on their feedback. Small business SEO is also advantageous as it can use both localised marketing strategies as well as generalised results as it can be configured to local or general-based searches based on local traffic on a given website. This is crucial for SMEs as it reduces the cost of generating web traffic, e.g., when a business or marketing site of your SME pops up in a search, it helps such businesses to be ranked, thus generating more visibility, competition, and more traffic via searches, thus leading to multiplier benefits such as more customer engagements, higher chances of business product sales, and thus increasing the customer base.

One aspect that needs to be taken into consideration is that achieving such milestones cannot be done haphazardly; rather, the use of small business SEO requires a crisp understanding of what needs to be done to achieve success. Though no one takes it all strategy, it is crucial that in most businesses, SME managers understand some of the crucial steps, which include: (i) conducting keyword research so as to make it easy to generate the best keywords that can wow customers, and this can be reinforced by using personalised URLs, (ii) creating a logical site structure (iii) optimisation of the business meta titles and descriptions, e.g., meta tags; (iv) creation of backlinks to your business site from reputable marketing sources that are trusted with the best domain ratings. (v) try to link your business URLs on all your social media platforms, e.g., LinkedIn or X, to increase chances of customer acquisition; (vi) continuous monitoring of the site to check the technical issues therein; (vii) Try to write a good copy story about your business. With a focus on such insights, it is much more probable that the attainment of business success for SMEs becomes more likely.

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