“SMMEs will benefit from this help desk. It affords entrepreneurs sharper focus to run their business while we assist with activities like compliance and digital marketing. We want to support SMMEs in their journey to success with the hopes of creating much-needed employment”, 

Craig Clutty, COO of Forge Academy.

Johannesburg 3 April 2022

Forge Academy has launched an SMME Digital Service Desk created and driven by students who completed their 4IR certification this year. Graduates have moved into an SMME Digital Service Desk environment to put their skills to use. This service desk assists small businesses with access to subsidised scalable digital transformation and compliance services they need to grow.

Forge Academy has reported that more than 200 small businesses have subscribed to the services offered by the graduates. 

Forge Academy officially launched the SMME help desk programme on 31 March 2022.

“We have made this service available to SMMEs across all sectors needing assistance scaling their businesses. The Digital Service Desk removes administration hurdles and reduces the need to acquire digital skills. Businesses need freedom and time to focus on their vision and deeper customer relations. The nett effect of matching industry needs to expertise on hand is digital job opportunities for youth

said Arthur Wade Anderson, CEO of Forge Academy.

Partners like EIMS AfricaGCRA, Mineworkers Development Agency and Praesignis have come on board to scale support for the youth and rural SMME sector in South Africa.

“It is a pleasure to partner with like-minded businesses that drive authentic economic change in our country. Nothing is more important than ensuring we prepare our youth for what the future holds. There is no better preparation than education. Let’s not just beat the proverbial drum; let’s make music”, 

said Percy Moleke, CEO of GCRA.

Businesses that have registered with the help desk will receive assistance from a team of 35 recently graduated staff. Services include company compliance, website services, funding applications, digital marketing, public relations, virtual assistance for project management tasks and an IT service desk and much more.

“SMMEs will benefit from this help desk. It affords entrepreneurs sharper focus to run their business while we assist with activities like compliance and digital marketing. We want to support SMMEs in their journey to success with the hopes of creating much-needed employment”, 

said Craig Clutty, COO of Forge Academy.

The prerequisites for an SMME to register with the help desk follow the National Small Business Act and include:

1. Microenterprise

  • Between one to five employees
  • Annual turnover must be less than R0.15 million
  • An informal setup such as no license or formal business premises
  • Basic business skills and training
  • Potential to make the transition to a viable small business

2. Small enterprise

  • Less than 100 employees
  • Annual turnover must be less than R10 million
  • More established being formal and registered with a fixed business premises
  • Owner-managed with a more complex management structure

3. Medium enterprise

  • Up to 200 employees
  • Annual turnover of less than R20 million
  • Mainly an owner-managed business with a decentralised management structure 
  • The company operates from fixed premises with all formal requirements in place.

The help desk team sets up virtual meetings with SMMEs to understand their operation and then creates a tailored suite of services best suited to their business needs.

Forge Academy hosted the launch of the SMME help desk in style at the Fourways Gantry on 30 March 2022. In attendance were esteemed dignitaries from Nokia, The Department of Communications and Digital Technologies, The Gauteng Department of  Treasury,  The Department of Basic Education, The Finnish Embassy, Business Finland and Edu Excellence.

Students demonstrated current virtual reality, augmented reality, robotics, 3-D printing, and drone services to potential clients at the event. There were digital ‘surprises’ scattered throughout the venue with QR code technology that would deliver a unique student-created experience when scanned with a smartphone.

“Our greatest export is our youth, not gold and not diamonds. What are we doing as adults to position our kids in the global marketplace where they can be successful?” We all have something to give, so let’s empty our cups into the SMME space and build generational wealth”

Concluded Anderson.