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Chat-based business recovery resource launched on WhatsApp to assist SMMEs during Covid-19

All content and resources available on the service are free but usual WhatsApp data charges will apply.

A new chat-based service called SMMEstart was launched on social media platform WhatsApp recently with the aim of providing SMMEs (micro, small and medium-sized enterprises) in South Africa with information, guidance and resources to help business owners navigate their way through the Covid-19 recovery period and beyond.

The SMMEstart service, developed by Praekelt.org in partnership with Arifu and Jozihub and funding support from Google, is free-to-use and available 24 hours a day.

The service was designed following a research assessment that was conducted to understand the needs of SMMEs in South Africa, more so during Covid-19.

“Among other insights, the needs assessment research confirmed that most businesses in the study experienced severe financial impact from Covid-19,” the information and resource service stated.


‘There are more opportunities for SMMEs in 2021 than in 2011’

“Most respondents indicated that Covid-19 illuminated a need for business skills, predominantly skills relating to implementing sustainable, online business opportunities and digital marketing.

“Respondents also indicated difficulty in understanding or accessing relief opportunities and found that they were not properly compliant in order to access or apply for the relief offered. The respondents further indicated a need for assistance in navigating legal matters as well as with their future business strategy and growth.”


SMMEstart is a live service which means functionality, content and additional resources will be added over time, and especially as needs change or new needs are identified.

The actionable information, guidance and resources on SMMEstart are easy to access and conveniently available on enabled devices such as smart phones for businesses where time really is money.

“Rounding off the offerings on SMMEstart is TALK, which will be added in the coming weeks and will give users the opportunity to share their stories and also engage with the SMMEstart helpdesk to ask questions or request additional services, information or support.

“Business owners are also encouraged to register on the service in order to receive updates and provide valuable feedback.”

To gain access to the platform, business owners can text the word “Hi” as a message to the WhatsApp service that is available on 060 011 0110 or click here

Once the text message has been sent, an automated welcome message is received and allows users to access the service by replying to any of the words in bold from the menu.

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