Enterprise Seychelles Agency encourages small businesses to go digital in Covid times

In its effort to ease some economic effects on businesses during Covid-19, the Enterprise Seychelles Agency (ESA) organised a digital forum under the theme ‘My Friend the Net’ for micro, small & medium enterprises (MSMEs) with no or low online visibility to market their businesses.

The aim of the forum was to present to the entrepreneurs the various available functioning online platforms, including those that have emerged post Covid-19, so as to inspire and motivate them to choose the one suitable to promote their businesses in the new normal.

It has been found that many businesses are sticking to the traditional way of doing business (physical contact) which at times is time consuming rather than exploring the fast and efficient digital technologies available. It was the agency’s first digital forum campaign for MSMEs ever organised.

Launching the half-day forum at the International Conference Centre (ICCS) yesterday morning, the chief executive of Esa, Angelic Appoo, said the agency has for several years encouraged many of its clients to have simple digital access such as an email address, which could facilitate communication. However, such simple advice was not seen as a necessity for the micro and small businesses. But with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on our daily lives and the daily operations of businesses, there has been an outcry to change the way we are used to doing things.“This has opened the eyes of many to adapt to the changes that are being pushed forward, such as online meetings rather than face-to-face interactions, using electronic point of sale facilities rather than cash transactions, online marketing and sales rather than physical sales, home delivery services rather than standing in line for a take-away, among many others,” she said, urging entrepreneurs to take different measures and innovative approaches to attract clients for business survival in the new normal.“Some of these platforms will cost, however it is your duty to invest in your business and ensure that you are investing in something that will bring about benefits,” she added.

The entrepreneurs were presented with an array of presenters, whom through interactions, PowerPoint and video presentations, showcased their innovative business ideas that they have materialised in Seychelles and which have also created opportunities for other businesses to experience a new service. Representatives from the Central Bank of Seychelles (CBS), the Public Utilities Corporation (PUC), the Mauritius Commercial Bank (MCB) and the National Institute for Science, Technology and Innovation (NISTI) were present in the ICCS lobby to impart knowledge on the importance of a digital sector and an innovative economy.One of the collaborative partners of ESA is the Seychelles Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI). Its secretary general, Iouna Pillay, said that Covid-19 has caused significant structural changes in our economy and one of these structural changes is digitalisation.

“So more and more we see the importance of digital platforms and the use of technology especially as we try to manage Covid-19 better. It is no longer about technology disrupting the economy but it is about the economy needing technology to assist the disruption,” she said, noting that structural changes will come quick and those who are better prepared will be strong and will recover quickly.

A participant, Sera Gamal, the local producer of ‘Laflesh Organic Local Juice’ from Beau Vallon, praised the ESA initiative “as it will be in the benefit of all small businesses in the future. I am definitely thinking of giving it a try and I will see how it goes. If this is the norm nowadays, we have to move with the trend”.

Facilitator and young entrepreneur Dorian Marie, owner of ‘Maverick Corp’, a digital platform involved in providing the service of creating mobile apps, websites and including providing digital marketing to better interact with customers on unique platforms, said that digital technology is the best tool to push forward services and products among other new innovations and innovative ideas for the benefit of the public in general.

The initiative for the forum was part of the National Framework for Integrated Management of the Reopening of Seychelles and initiated by the SCCI, the department of Industry and Entrepreneurship Development and ESA.