The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant lockdown has seen the collapse of a number of micro enterprises, for failure to adapt to electronic commerce.
One of the biggest bottlenecks realize by these businesses is lack of digital skills among their proprietors, yet they have now become as important as financial management skills given the COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedures of social distancing and working from home.
Noticing the gap, however, Computing Palace Technologies, an Information and Communication Technology (ICT) firm that specializes in software development saw it right to start imparting digital skills to small business owners to enable them use online channels to market and sell their products.
“We noticed that many businesses had not adopted so much social media and other digital platforms to do business. But after holding a session with them and showing them how their businesses can evolve, they have started to adopt the idea. Unfortunately, some businesses had already died,” says Felix Balitumye, Team Lead at Computing Palace Technologies.
“We understand that the biggest driver to financial inclusion is technology; so, when we saw this gap in digital literacy, we decided that it is one of the things we should focus on in this season.”
Balitumye adds that the company has also put up an e-learning portal, a self-study platform that one can access to learn more about financial management and digital skills.
This innovation is one of the latest by Computing Palace Technologies, who deal in a range of ICT services including software development, development of financial products, websites design and hosting services, ICT consultancy, internship training, and customized ICT training.
Over the years, the firm has developed different management systems including Sacco management, School management, Hospital management, and Church management systems, among others to enable them operate more efficiently.
To further support business survival, Balitumye explains that the firm will soon launch “Her Duuka”, a web-based platform that will enable women post and sell their products online.
“We are not only teaching these women digital skills, we are also enabling them to adapt by selling their goods online. Whoever will be allowed to create an account on this platform must have been trained,” he says.
This will also help boost financial inclusion as the women-business owners will only receive their payments through mobile money.
While the platform will initially be free for all the women, Balitumye says that they might consider charging a small subscription fee in future for sustainability purposes.
Computing Palace Technologies is among the participants in the second edition of the 40-days-40-FinTechs initiative, organised by HiPipo under its Include EveryOne programme, in partnership with Crosslake Tech, ModusBox and Mojaloop.
Balitumye commended HiPipo for the initiative, saying that it has opened its doors to new partnerships and also broadened its perspective towards financial inclusion and interoperability which have been integrated in its systems development.
Being a gender-centric firm, however, Balitumye says there is need to enhanced collaboration and support to bridge the current gender gap in the Fintech industry.
The HiPipo Chief Executive Officer Innocent Kawooya alludes that the second edition of the 40-Days 40 FinTechs will showcase the best of the multitudes of solutions and products one can think of in the digital space.
“We expect showcases of innovations and brands operating in this space and also use this chance to learn, at no cost, from probably the most knowledgeable pool of global FinTech experts that are all scheduled to present this year,” he says.
Kawooya adds that FinTech in Africa offers attractive opportunities and that investors are rightfully picking interest in the various startups that are offering a plethora of services, ranging from payments and lending, remittances, cross-border transfers and neobanks, among others.