In today’s busy world, it is almost unimaginable to think that there are small businesses that don’t rely on some sort of connection to the internet or other modern technologies to service their customers.

Yet, according to a new survey, there are many small businesses in South Africa that don’t make technology a priority in their everyday operations.

The ‘State of SA Small Business’ report published by Xero in partnership with World Wide Worx surveyed 400 businesses and found that while 66% cited technology as “very important” (47%) or “essential” (19%), most revenue is still generated offline, with almost a quarter of small businesses (23%) having no online sales channel at all.

Only 29% of them generate at least half of their revenue through this channel.

To tack on to that, the survey found that just over a quarter (26%) of South African small businesses consider a PC to be an essential business tool, while only 6% deem an internet connection to be necessary.

“Only 4% counted a smartphone as essential. Nearly half (41%) use their smartphones for social media, whilst the second most popular function was email, at 39%,” the report said.

Even when it comes to online banking, small businesses prefer to physically go to the bank.

“34% use online banking on their smartphones and 19% make mobile payments, suggesting that there is definitely room for improvement when it comes to how small businesses use technology – 10% did not have a smartphone at all,” it said.

Gary Turner, Xero co-founder and managing director for Xero in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region, said that more small businesses need to be connected online.

“When you consider that 52% of South Africa’s GDP is generated by small businesses, SMEs need to be smarter and more connected to ensure they’re at the forefront of economic recovery.”

But why, you may ask, do so many of them shun technology? Well, the survey pointed out three main concerns: Privacy, Reliability and Security.

It’s not all bad news: 55% claimed that smart devices and cloud apps have made running their business easier and most (60%) do not have any concerns about using cloud technology.

[Image – CC by 2.0/Richard Fisher]


Charlie started his professional life as a motoring journalist for a community newspaper in Mpumalanga, Charlie explored different journalistic angles since his entry into the fast-paced world of publishing in 2006. While fostering a passion for the arts, Charlie developed a love for technology – both which allowed him to serve as Entertainment and Technology Editor for an online publication. Charlie has since been heavily involved in consumer technology for various websites and publications. He thoroughly enjoys World War II films and cerebral documentaries; aviation; photography and indie music. Oh yes, and he also has a rather strange obsession with collecting coffee mugs from his travels.