The developments in the digital space has brought in benefits and challenges for upcoming entrepreneurs. The digital divide between those who have ready access to computers and the internet, and those who do not, has almost been closed with the explosive increase in the penetration of smartphones as a result of cheaper phones and easier access to broadband connectivity. This development has brought about an impressive growth in internet users.
This surge in internet usage has completely transformed the world of marketing, the way business is conducted and has opened up great doors for young entrepreneurs to leverage their businesses using e-commerce solutions. Research has shown that E-commerce, the marketing, promotion, buying and selling of goods and services over the internet, is experiencing unprecedented growth and is expected to continue to grow into the future. Hamadoun Toure Secretary General of ITU said “Broadband gives small businesses the opportunity to broaden their customer base and reduce their overheads through e-commerce platforms.”
E-commerce comes in a number of forms: business-to-consumer (B2C), business-to-business (B2B), consumer-to-consumer (C2C) and e-procurement. An entrepreneur can adopt any of these forms.
Despite the limited resources available to start-ups, the young entrepreneurs have the advantage that they are endowed with IT knowledge, expertise and know how to experiment with technology and therefore should benefit from e-commerce. Being techno savvy gives the young entrepreneur an advantage when doing business on the internet.
Online business is now easy to start because the reduction in prices of software and hosting services has reduced the barriers to entry in the online business. You don’t need necessarily have to buy the software. You can lease the software from companies offering these services. Businesses have three options either to host their own web site; host their site with a web hosting service provider or host their site with a portal such as Yahoo or other service providers for a small monthly fee.
Online business offers many advantages for the start-up. Traditional business requires the brick-and-mortar set-up which is very restrictive on growth because of the prohibitive costs in setting up such facilities. The most efficient, quick and cost effective alternative for entrepreneurs to start operations is by opting for the online route to run a business.
Young entrepreneurs can leverage on the internet to expand their markets, improve efficiencies, attract and retain customers, and exploit other e-commerce opportunities which include customer service, technical support, data retrieval, public and investor relations, security and payment issues, cutting costs, and obtaining advice or information.
Trading goods or services online gives the entrepreneur ability to reach out to a wider global audience without investing heavily in the physical infrastructure, the brick-and-mortar required under traditional businesses. You don’t need to invest in huge facilities to start a business. Your major cost will be that of setting up a website that will give your company a foothold in the market by using this to stimulate public interest through social media, e-mails, videos and online advertisements, You can therefore run your business remotely from any location. Companies carrying their business online will benefit through the reduction of costs associated with finding new customers.
E-commerce provides a variety of options to communicate with potential customers. You can tailor-make communication to a particular group of customers depending on their needs. This can be done at least cost. You can customise the way the organisation exhibits it products.
Payments can be done online. However security is one of the challenges and so should be addressed to avoid hacking into the site for credit card. Entrepreneurs need to assure their customers that they take adequate security precautions. There have been substantial improvements in security on payments. Most of the payment systems are fairly secure and therefore should not pose any problems to customers. Shipment of products can be done using the experienced international couriers.
Business can be carried out round the clock. The company is therefore able to provide 24/7 online support all over the globe. Customer service is enhanced as a result. There is no longer much difference in exposure to customers between a small company and a big one. Both are exposed the same way because of internet coverage.
E-commerce offers efficiencies that give a business the ability to reduce the costs of billing, payment, customer service and distribution costs. It also helps reduce supply chain management, procurement, and other management costs. This is because the internet, once set up, can operate at minimal costs.
The internet enables small businesses to access information about goods especially prices and availability of goods from different suppliers which gives the entrepreneur ability to source from cheaper sources and to effectively and efficiently manage stock levels. Customer service can be improved by letting customers use frequently asked questions(FAQs). This will free up valuable time for the selling staff to do other activities for customers.
By using the internet companies are able to improve their value chain by cutting out the middleman. Normally in the traditional value chain the transaction flows from the manufacturer, then to the wholesaler/distributor, retailer, and finally to the consumer. With the advent of the internet, entrepreneurs can develop relationships with the manufacturers and sell directly to the consumer without having to deal with the middlemen.
About the author
Stewart Jakarasi is a business & financial strategist and a lecturer in business strategy and performance management. He provides advisory and guidance on leadership, strategy and execution, preparation of business plans and on how to build and sustain high-performing organisations. For assistance in implementing some of the concepts discussed in these articles please contact him on the following contacts: firstname.lastname@example.org or +266 58881062 or on WhatsApp +266 62110062
LEC to switch off households over debts
MASERU – The Lesotho Electricity Company (LEC) will from Tuesday next week begin switching off clients who owe it money.
The LEC issued a seven-day ultimatum to all customers who owe it on Tuesday last week. The deadline ends on Monday.
It is expected that the LEC will begin switching off households that have defaulted.
The state-owned power company, however, is not going to touch any government department or business entities that owe it on grounds that they are in payment negotiations.
The LEC move comes barely two weeks after it cut electricity supplies to the Water and Sewerage Company (WASCO) thus causing it to fail to pump water to communities countrywide for more than two days.
The LEC says it is owed close to M200 million by government departments, businesses and individuals.
The LEC spokesman, Tšepang Ledia, told thepost that the government and the businesses will not have their electricity cut because they are in negotiations.
“We are in negotiations with the government and businesses and hopefully they will pay,” Ledia said.
“We advise the ordinary people to pay their debts before the 20th of March 2023 or else we cut the services,” he said.
The LEC says it is running short of funds for its daily operations.
In December last year the company increased power tariffs by 7.9 percent on both energy and maximum demand charges across all customer categories for the Financial Year 2022/23.
Last week the LEC boss, Mohato Seleke, said postpaid consumers and sundry debtors owe the company M169.4 million.
He said unless the debtors pay he will be unable to buy electricity from ’Muela Hydropower Project, Eskom in South Africa and Mozambique’s EDM.
This, he said, could cause serious load shedding in the country and could be devastating for businesses.
Seleke said the LEC spends M630 million monthly to buy electricity.
“If postpaid consumers do not settle their debts this could prevent the LEC from being able to buy electricity which can lead the country to encounter load-shedding,” Seleke said.
Seleke said collecting debt from government department ministries was a challenge as there is an understanding that since LEC is a state-owned company, it will continue supplying government agencies with electricity and they will settle their bills when they have funds to do so.
Seleke said the LEC has lost M21 million to vandalism during this financial year.
Bumper payout for former mineworkers
MASERU – AT least 11 316 current as well as former mine workers are set for a bumper payout after Tshiamiso Trust began disbursing the first billion Maloti to workers who are suffering from silicosis and tuberculosis.
The payment comes two years after Tshiamiso Trust began processing claims for the historical M5 billion settlement agreement between mineworkers and six gold mines in South Africa.
Speaking at the payment announcement in Maseru last week, the Trust’s CEO, Lusanda Jiya, said it has been two years since they officially began accepting claims.
“Our people come to work every day with the mission of impacting lives for the better, and the first billion rand paid out to over 11 000 families is just the beginning,” Jiya said.
“We know that there is no compensation that will ever be enough to undo the suffering endured by mine workers and their families,” he said.
“However, we are committed to deliver our mandate and ensure that every family that is eligible for compensation receives it.”
Jiya said the Trust is limited both in terms of the time in which they can operate, and the extent to which they can assist those seeking compensation.
Broadly speaking, the eligibility criteria include among others that the mineworker must have worked at one of the qualifying gold mines between March 12, 1965 and December 10, 2019.
Secondly, living mineworkers must have permanent lung damage from silicosis or TB and deceased mine workers representatives must have evidence that proves that they (the deceased) died from TB or Silicosis.
Tshiamiso Trust has a lifespan of 12 years, ending in February 2031.
Over 111 000 claims have been received to date, through offices in South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, eSwatini, and Mozambique.
The Trust is working with stakeholders in these countries and others to mobilise its efforts and expand operations.
The history of silicosis in South Africa goes back to the late 1880’s when the first gold mines began operations.
The gold was stored and locked in quartz, a special rock that contains large amounts of silica.
Crystallised silica particles can cause serious respiratory damage if inhaled.
In the earlier days of gold mining, dust control, health and safety standards and the use of PPE (personal protective equipment) were not as advanced as they are today.
Tshiamiso Trust was established in 2020 to give effect to the settlement agreement reached between six mining companies.
The companies are African Rainbow Minerals, Anglo American South Africa, AngloGold Ashanti, Harmony Gold, Sibanye Stillwater and Gold Fields.
The settlement agreement was reached and made after a ruling by the Johannesburg High Court as a result of a historic class action by former and current mineworkers against the six gold mines.
Justice for Miners is a coalition of interested parties in the mining sector launched at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg in 2020.
The Johannesburg High Court approved the setting up of the Tshiamiso Trust to facilitate payment by the companies to affected miners.
Farmers cry over cost of livestock feed
MASERU – Lehlohonolo Mokhethi is a farmer who has been running a successful poultry business, thanks to a small loan he got from a local bank.
He now has 300 chickens.
He says his vision is to rear 5 000 chickens by 2025 and employ 30 youths. But he is now grappling with a new challenge: the ever increasing cost of chicken feed.
That is threatening the viability of his business.
“The biggest challenge is that food prices increase every day, feeding is expensive,” Mokhethi said.
“It is quite difficult to make profit in business if each and every day food prices increase. Today I am buying a bag of food with a certain amount then the next day the price has increased,” he says.
“Our customers fail dismally to understand that food has increased and the Chinese are taking our market because they sell at a low price thus I run at a loss.”
Last week, a top attorney in Maseru who is also a prominent farmer, Tiisetso Sello-Mafatle, called a meeting for farmers to discuss these challenges.
She says the government must regulate the prices of livestock feed.
That is critical if the farming business is to succeed, she says.
Attorney Sello-Mafatle says farmers must come up with a structure for livestock feed prices which they would present to the government for gazetting.
“We should state our regulations and give them to the government to make everything easy for both parties because we cannot wait for the government to make regulations for us,” Sello-Mafatle says.
She adds that “farmers should be bullish about what they want and never have fear endorsing new things”.
“I will not be challenged or cry (because of) what life throws at me but I will cry when things are not happening the right way,” she says.
Mafatle says farmers need to know who they are and know the capabilities they have.
“This will help a farmer in becoming the best in any field they are in once they are confident about themselves,” she says.
Karabo Lijo, another participant, said they have to influence the cost of inputs in agriculture, especially livestock feed.
“We have to go back to cost-price analysis where as farmers we are able to derive the selling price and the break-even point in our production,” Lijo said.
“We can also derive the stable or constant mark-ups on our products,” he said.
“We need to do research to increase the ability to produce byproducts which are likely to have the longest shelve life,” he said.
The meeting urged farmers to diversify their products by introducing such things as mushroom farming. They said mushrooms can grow very well in Lesotho due to its favourable climate.
The farmers also demanded that there should be regulations on how land can be sold or borrowed in Lesotho.
Tholoana Lesenya and Alice Samuel
News1 month ago
How MP’s wife was killed
News1 month ago
Kabi to stay on as ABC leader
Business1 month ago
2 more students win scholarships from Letšeng Diamonds
Business2 months ago
Trade Minister rejects textile unions’ charge
Sports-pst2 months ago
Likuena’s international matches woes continue
News1 month ago
Storm over fleet maintenance deal
News2 months ago
Suspension was malicious, says Nko
Business1 month ago
2 more students win scholarships from Letšeng Diamonds