South Africa may have a diverse entrepreneurial landscape, but there are three distinct challenges that arise in the start-up and growth phases of a business. These are: limited access to market, little or no support structures, and restricted financial information and access to credit.
In response to these problems “our team at Leap has designed and developed The Business World – an online, mobile-compatible trading platform. With its fully integrated business support services, enterprise development programmes, and financial institutions, the portal is aimed at entrepreneurs, small business owners and procurement officers” says Cara-Leigh Shepherd, Strategic Administrator at The Business World, in this month’s SmartProcurement.
The Business World creates access to markets by enabling business-to-business and business-to-customer trade. It is a portal that is focused on connecting buyers to verified quality suppliers across South Africa, and fairly soon to the rest of Africa. It has full financial integration, accounting and procurement capability, and is designed to streamline the accreditation process, where SMEs are encouraged to create more credible and informative profiles of their services and products.
A virtual incubation centre is directly connected to The Business World, and provides real-time, relevant small business support on all start-up issues. “We understand the needs of small businesses and that’s why we provide business owners with tax, legal and HR experts, available through the portal, either over the phone or online” said Shepherd.
This virtual centre currently incubates 100 000 SMEs, and provides relevant and timely advice, and administration and procurement support when a business needs it. The plan for 2015 is to migrate all of these SMEs onto The Business World.
Through The Business World, small businesses are connected to financial institutions and corporate buyers. The first two corporate clients who have backed the portal are Standard Bank and BHP Billiton, however, Leap is also in talks with credit checking agencies, peer-to-peer lenders, online shopping portals, and venture capitalists. The platform has an enterprise and supplier development functionality that allows corporate companies to support local SMEs, through an online enterprise development programme. The Business World’s online needs assessment, and telephonic mentorship sessions, have been developed by a team of SME experts, and this simplifies the process of supporting businesses in the right areas.
As the Business World team, the company invites all entrepreneurs to engage with the platform, where they can get access to new markets and receive valuable support when and where you need it most. They believe that through online commerce, The Business World will change the South African and African entrepreneurial landscape, will inspire local transformation, create jobs and drive economic growth.