Although South Africa has had its fair share of economic challenges, the country’s entrepreneurial spirit is incredible. We’re seeing a major shift to the cloud as many small businesses embrace new technology. This was a central theme of last week’s Xero Roadshow events as they hit Johannesburg and the beautiful Cape Town.
Gary Turner and the rest of the Xero crew spoke to over 600 passionate accounting and bookkeeping professionals who came out. Gary spoke about how a new generation of technology is empowering SMEs to be bullish about the future and the role advisors have to play in driving further business confidence.
South Africa needs SMEs for job creation and revenue growth
…imagine the possibilities if every South African SMB increased productivity by just 2%?
It’s hard to overstate the value that small businesses provide to the economy. Not only do they contribute financially and create jobs, they also build a community and culture.
To explores the challenges and prospects that SA’s vibrant small business community face, we surveyed 400 South African small businesses to uncover small business’ biggest challenges, attitudes to technology and financial management, work-life balance, levels of confidence, and more.
A big takeaway was that South Africa’s small businesses are optimistic about the future. In fact, 58% expect to grow in the next year, while 29% expect to stay the same and only 12% expect to shrink.
The report gave us some incredible insight into the key challenges facing the small business community in South Africa. But we’re encouraged that while some of these challenges are particular to the region, many of them are common across other countries we operate in.
Keeping it local and constantly innovating
Xero has been hard at work, updating our product to better serve our customers. Over the last 12 months there have been more than 1,500 updates, including functionality developed just for the South African market. We’ve updated our design, user experience, and performance across the board. And most of the updates happen automatically, without the user having to do anything. Here are a couple of our recently released features:
- Local VAT functionality is now available to South African users
- We’ll be billing in Rand by the end of the year
- We’ll soon be releasing IFRS report templates inside Xero for South African small businesses
- Xero’s new Contacts Page, which integrates with Gmail and Outlook 365, allows you to see a total view of your customer in one place. The Contacts page now links a customer’s contact record with their recent activity and email correspondence. Not only does this give you a single screen of all contact activity, it easily links in with Smart Lists and Invoice Reminders. Pretty cool.
- Xero’s Pay Now function helps people get paid faster. Not only that, you get real-time data which allows you to see immediately when someone opens an invoice, for example.
- Xero’s recode function. It allows you to quickly and easily find and fix errors. To date, 11.5 million transactions have been updated and recoded, effectively saving endless hours of time that would otherwise have been spent manually fixing those things.
Magnifying South African small businesses
Like many of the other regions Xero caters to, our research and feedback from partners has shown there’s a significant opportunity for small businesses and their advisors to impact the South African economy. And Xero is perfectly placed to help. The reception we received last week was incredible. We were already excited about what we could do in South Africa, but now even more so after such a warm and friendly welcome.