Eswatini’s SMEs Look To Data-driven Tools To Drive Growth

Eswatini’s small and mid-sized enterprises (SMEs) are increasingly looking to grow their businesses both locally and internationally and access new markets to mitigate the effects of a global economic slowdown, rising inflation and to ensure sustainable and inclusive economic growth, says TransUnion Eswatini Country Manager, Patricia Zwane.

According to The World Bank, the country’s economy rebounded in 2021, despite the continued COVID-19 pandemic and the June 2021 political unrest, and will continue recovering in 2022. Real GDP growth is projected at 2% in 2022 and 1.8% in 2023, reflecting the implementation of the government's three-year fiscal adjustment programme, although there are inflationary pressures as a result of oil and food price increases caused by the war in Ukraine. This growth is being supported by a strong performance in the manufacturing sector due to improved demand from key export markets.

Government has attempted to address SME development through various development projects and programmes and growing numbers of businesses are now shifting to ecommerce and looking at global markets to accelerate revenues, reduce costs, and manage their risks – and data-based tools are proving to be a key driver of the growing trend of SMEs expanding into the region and globally, explains says Rafi Kotler, Head of Commercial Bureau Solutions at TransUnion Africa.

“Big data and analytics used to be seen as something only large enterprises could afford, or use. That’s changing rapidly, with local SMEs increasingly turning to data-driven business intelligence tools to grow their businesses, access new markets and develop their pipelines,” says Kotler.

“SMEs are looking to quality data and enhanced analytics to gain a complete view of customers, suppliers, partners and prospects, and make informed decisions. That’s where analytical techniques are critical for deciding which market to target, where to find customers within those markets and how to manage the risks of transacting with business customers at arm’s length.”

Local SMEs’ ability to access data on global markets was boosted last year by a partnership between TransUnion Africa and global commercial data company Dun & Bradstreet, which gives SMEs access to two key Dun & Bradstreet services, D&B Hoovers and DataVision. Hoovers is a web-based lead prospecting tool that allows companies to build local and global pipelines, and DataVision helps companies assess markets and develop entry strategies through powerful data analytics.

Effectively, this makes Eswatini’s businesses visible on the global stage and gives them access to international trade opportunities. “For companies that want to jump-start their businesses, or accelerate their growth into global export markets or the e-commerce space, these platforms provide an intuitive experience to decide which markets they should enter and which customers they should reach out to in those markets,” said Kotler.

They also have the added benefit of helping businesses organise their own data, and combining it with 400 million international D&B sourced records. This allows companies to get on with running their businesses, and competing in global markets, rather than spending their time cleaning up spreadsheets.

The partnership with Dun & Bradstreet builds on TransUnion’s existing range of fraud and risk solutions, which help Eswatini’s businesses form trusted relationships and make more informed decisions. This includes products that address fraud, identity and risk management, automated decisioning, and marketing across a range of sectors, including banking, retail, insurance, automotive and telecommunications.

“This won’t just help businesses in Eswatini rebound from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, but will open up entirely new growth avenues. And ultimately, that will be good for the country, and the continent’s economy,” said Zwane.

SMEs can sign up for a free webinar, ‘How News Can Boost B2B Sales’ on July 21 from 10:00 to 11:00; and a free Masterclass, Expand your Exports’, on July 28 from 10:00 to 11:00. Both events are part of the TransUnion D&B Hoovers Webinar & Masterclass Series.