Chat-based Service To Assist SMMEs Launched



Tech World

Feb. 5, 2021, 1:37 p.m.

SMMEstart, a new chat-based service that provides assistance in the form of valuable information, guidance, and access to business resources and tools for local small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) has been launched.

Accessible via popular instant-messaging platform Whatsapp, SMMEstart was developed by Praekelt.org in partnership with Arifu and Jozihub with funding from Google.org.


SMMEstart service can be activated by SMME business owners by accessing Whatsapp and texting the word ‘hi’ +27 60 011 0110 or by simply clicking on this link. The service is available 24 hours a day and is free of charge except for the data charges incurred by utilising Whatsapp. After conducting an in-depth research report on the needs of local micro, small and medium-sized businesses, SMMEstart concluded that most of the businesses surveyed were severely financially impacted by the pandemic.


The valuable findings gathered from the survey were used to construct the content offered on SMMEstart chat-based service and include the following:

Financial – Find and learn how to apply for both government and private sector financial relief resources available as well as accounting guidelines and information to help businesses through Covid-19 and beyond.

Grow – Access free resources to grow your knowledge – including free downloadable books and extensive digital marketing skills training to help businesses grow, despite challenging times.

Tax – Guidance on how to be tax compliant. This is key to accessing SARS Covid-19 relief measures and unlocking new business opportunities.

Marketing – Understand and implement marketing that can help businesses survive and thrive through this time.

Legal – Guidance on the new legal dimensions that Covid-19 has brought about to the way businesses operate – as well as other important legal obligations pertaining to micro, small and medium-sized businesses.

Health- Access important Covid-19 information. How best to take care of one’s health and the health of your employees – from keeping healthy during Covid-19 to stress reduction and other areas that contribute to the ongoing success of SMMEs.

News- Keeping users up-to-date on Covid-19 news, including steps being taken by the government for business relief and current regulations around reducing the pandemic, as well as news of interest to SMMEs.

Free resources that SMMEstart is sourcing to help businesses recover and grow. These will be added to the service and frequently updated as more resources are identified and partnerships entered into with other organisations willing to play a role in helping SMMEs through COVID-19 and beyond.

A sharing function that gives people the ability to easily share the service with other business owners.

As a live service, SMMEstart has stated in a press release that additional resources will be added over a period of time to cater to the changing needs of its users.

SMMEstart will additionally add a new feature in the weeks ahead called Talk. This feature will allow users to share their business stories and engage with the SMMEstart helpdesk to ask questions or request additional services, info, or support.

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Dorcas Benewaa Author

Dorcas is an upcoming journalist. She loves the creative arts and loves to write about startups, digital arts and issues in the tech sector.