By Veerakumar Natarajan, Country Head, Zoho Kenya
Technological progression plays a crucial role in fostering economic growth. A lack of access to technology can hinder local economies, particularly in developing countries such as Kenya and other African nations.
Access to technology can be a game changer for businesses in less urban areas, providing a range of benefits that can help them thrive and expand. For instance, by leveraging tools that automate tasks and utilizing e-commerce platforms, businesses can tap into new markets and streamline operations. Additionally, technology that facilitates the gathering and analysis of data can be particularly valuable, as it allows businesses to gain valuable insights into their own performance and the broader market.
Armed with this information, they can make informed decisions that improve processes, enhance the customer experience, and optimize growth. By leveraging technology in this way, businesses can boost their competitiveness and increase their chances of success, even in a rapidly changing environment. The integration of technology at the micro-economic level can mitigate inequality and foster wealth creation in economically challenged areas, ultimately contributing to overall macroeconomic development and greater stability and long-term growth for both individual businesses and the communities they serve.
Growing small businesses
The most obvious area where technology can have a significant micro-economic impact is among small businesses. This is especially important in markets like Kenya, where statistics from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) show that the SME sector employs at least 86% of the Kenyan population and contributes about 45.5% to the country’s gross domestic product.
These SMEs not only create employment opportunities, but also play a crucial role in developing the communities in which they operate. They provide a platform for local talent to showcase their skills and can act as catalysts for attracting other businesses to the region, fostering a supportive ecosystem for economic growth.
To make their work easier, SMEs can use technology to their advantage. For example, SMEs can automate time-consuming tasks like inventory management. Similarly, e-commerce tools can significantly expand the reach of SMEs, particularly in remote areas. By leveraging real-time business intelligence, small business owners are able to free up valuable time to focus on their core competencies and drive business growth.
Zoho prioritizes serving underrepresented segments, specifically small businesses in regions that are frequently overlooked. The company places a strong emphasis on providing affordable and accessible technology solutions to meet the needs of these businesses.
Fostering entrepreneurship through low code
With low-code and no-code tools, entrepreneurs do not need to rely on expensive developer resources to build the applications they need. Low-code platforms offer a graphic development environment that allows entrepreneurs to build and test their applications, using snippets of pre-written code, allowing for a far quicker development process.
Additionally, because low-code platforms eliminate some of the more complex parts of the application development process (such as creating frameworks and linking databases), it becomes easier and faster for entrepreneurs to take their solution to market.
With internet connectivity, a startup can function from anywhere. By opening their offices in small towns or rural areas, they can reduce their operational costs significantly, gaining a longer runway to operate. When companies hire local talent, they are empowering individuals to contribute to their communities and address local issues more effectively instead of them needing to seek employment elsewhere. The retention of highly skilled and talented youth within the community can lead to innovative solutions and drive empowerment for local populations.
From afar, the positive shifts technology brings to individual businesses, entrepreneurs, and community organizations may appear small, but they can have cumulative effects. With enough momentum, these effects can ripple from the community to the municipal, provincial, and even national levels.
Therefore, while it is important to evaluate national macroeconomic policies critically, the influence that technology can have at the micro-economic level should not be overlooked or undervalued.