Mastercard is focused on connecting 50 million entrepreneurs, including 25-million women-owned businesses, to the digital economy by 2025. Picture: SUPPLIED/MASTERCARD
Mastercard is focused on connecting 50 million entrepreneurs, including 25-million women-owned businesses, to the digital economy by 2025. Picture: SUPPLIED/MASTERCARD

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to put pressure on small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) financially and operationally in SA, six in 10 business owners say they are proactively planning for and expecting growth in the next year. This is according to the Mastercard SME Index, which surveyed 300 SMMEs in SA between April and mid-May 2021. 

While most (84%) of SA SMMEs say the pandemic has negatively affected their revenue, looking forward, 79% are projecting their earnings will either hold steady or grow in the next year.

SMMEs in SA identified “upskilling staff for the future” (58%) as the top area that offers the highest growth potential for their businesses, closely followed by “better data, analytics and insights” (57%). 

“Digitising business operations, sales and admin” (53%) came in as the third driver, followed by “the acceptance of digital payments across multiple channels” (48%). This omnichannel approach is an important consideration for all businesses as last month’s New Payment Index found that 95% of SA consumers will consider using at least one emerging payment method in the next year, varying from contactless, QR codes, biometrics or cryptocurrency. The ability to “do business and transact internationally” (48%) rounded out the top five drivers.

Ensuring SMMEs have the support they need to go digital and grow digitally is an important focus for Mastercard. The company works with various stakeholders, including the government and banking institutions, to create solutions that will assist in the growth of SMMEs, which represent 98% of all businesses in SA.

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Mastercard has pledged $250m and committed to connect 50-million SMMEs globally to the digital economy by 2025 using its technology, network, expertise and resources in support of the company’s goal of building a more sustainable and inclusive digital economy.

Mastercard is also focused on connecting 25-million women entrepreneurs. For many small businesses, reducing their dependence on cash through digital payments acceptance has played a big role in being able to get paid and maintain revenues. 

“SMMEs in SA continue to demonstrate strength and agility while navigating lockdowns, restricted supply chains, and the changing habits of an evolving consumer.

“While many challenges remain, it’s encouraging to see how SMMEs are transforming the way they do business to benefit from the secure technology and convenient payments solutions that are shaping commerce. At Mastercard, our mission is to connect SMEs to the tools, training and insights they need to survive and thrive now and in the future,” says Suzanne Morel, country manager for Mastercard SA.


When asked about what keeps them up at night, 39% of SMMEs in SA mentioned being “able to maintain and grow their business”, while 29% are worried about staying in business or going bankrupt. Looking ahead at 2022, three-quarters (76%) identified the rising cost of doing business, 63% cited red tape and regulations, and 51% mentioned getting access to capital as their biggest business concerns.

Private sector partnerships (84%), international government or business collaborations (56%), and government-led initiatives (44%) were identified as having the biggest potential to make a positive impact on SMMEs and the wider SA market. 

For more information visit www.mastercard.com and follow on Twitter: @MastercardMEA and @MastercardNews. 

This article was paid for by Mastercard.


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