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Boost for SMEs from Google, Mastercard, Standard Bank



Standard Bank, Mastercard and Google have announced a collaboration to help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) move their businesses online, and accept digital payments.

SMEs will get free access to Standard Bank’s SimplyBlu, an all-in-one e-commerce solution powered by Mastercard Payment Gateway Services, and free Google Ads to the value of R500. These capabilities have been packaged as a bundled solution to help support business owners to tackle the economic challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As one of South Africa’s leading financial service providers, Standard Bank is acutely aware that small businesses play an important role in driving economic growth and generating employment opportunities,” says Nelisa Zulu of Standard Bank. “Our strategic relationships with leading brands such as Mastercard and Google ensure that we are able to support small businesses and offer our clients tangible benefits that add real value.”

Launched in 2019, SimplyBlu enables SMEs to create an online presence through the plug-and-play e-commerce store builder, which is interfaced with an instant online checkout. Taking skill levels and resource constraints into account, the platform has been designed in such a way that users can set it up and start accepting payments in a matter of minutes.

“We recognise the overwhelming pressure that small business owners are currently facing and are committed to supporting them through COVID-19 and beyond as they adapt to a new way of operating and evolved customer needs,” says Suzanne Morel, country manager of Mastercard South Africa. “Through this collaboration, our mission is to help as many SMEs with tools and support to expand their digital capabilities.”

With Google Ads, SMEs can get access to a digital marketing channel that will further help them in driving increased website visits to grow online sales, bookings or mailing list signups; more phone calls and customer interest queries; as well as more in-store visits.

“Small businesses have been hardest hit during this period,” says Google South Africa country director Alistair Mokoena. “Many of them have had to figure out quickly how to pivot their operations to a ‘digital-first’ approach. Yet, there remains a gap between those who can access these online opportunities and those who can’t. That’s the gap we want to bridge with this collaboration.”

Zulu says: “eCommerce is a powerful tool for small businesses – be it retail operators or merchants offering services ranging from home maintenance to professional services. Our SimplyBlu platform has seen over 100 percent growth during the COVID-19 period, with business owners increasingly realising the benefits of operating their businesses on online platforms.”

Candy Smith, a fashion designer, opened an online shop using SimplyBlu, where she built a face mask-making business. In early March, she was selling more than 200 masks a day. By the end of May, she reached over 1,500 masks a day for individual sales and secured corporate orders of 10,000 masks at a time.

SMEs can sign up for the offer here. The offer is valid until 31 December 2020.