Supporting small businesses
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are a critical part of the global economy, providing jobs and driving economic growth.
SMEs also provide opportunities for socio-economic participation and social mobility for women, young people, and ethnic minorities; groups of the workforce that have been particularly vulnerable during the COVID-19 crisis.
Their variety is immense, from fast-moving, digital-first start-ups to more traditional, strictly analogue high street businesses that have yet to acquire the skills to benefit from the latest digital innovations.
SMEs are the backbone of African economies, representing about 90% of all business in Africa and creating 80% of the region’s employment.
In Europe, SMEs employ 95 million people across 24 million enterprises. Overall, this amounts to a contribution of €4 trillion to the EU value-added.
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Our response to COVID-19
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has found that more than half of SMEs face severe losses in revenues due to COVID-19, with one-third fearing for their future without further support.
Through Vodafone Business, we provide products and services specifically tailored for SME and small-office home-office (‘SOHO’) businesses. These segments also represent a significant commercial opportunity for Vodafone, with the overall markets expected to grow a combined €6 billion over three years.
In 2021, Vodafone Business launched V-Hub in Europe. Free for all business customers, the service provides access to online guides, webinars, and a chat and phone service, putting businesses directly in touch with experts about specific questions.
As at 31 March 2021, over one million businesses were using V-Hub across our four largest European markets. We plan to continue the expansion of the service, to support over three million customers by April 2022.
We also offer optional supply chain financing, which allows suppliers to leverage Vodafone’s credit position to access cheaper funding and liquidity. This has no impact on Vodafone’s commercially negotiated payments terms. In South Africa, Vodacom Financial Services has built a supplier portal called VodaTrade, where small suppliers can connect with bigger business partners.
To assist businesses most at risk within our supply chain, Vodafone ensured that all new orders issued to micro and small suppliers by Vodafone’s European operations were paid within 15 days (instead of the customary 30 to 60 days) between April and October 2020, benefiting over 1,200 small businesses.
Our strategy in action
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Contribution to the UN Sustainable Development Goals
We aim to build a inclusive and sustainable digital society. Through our connectivity and digital innovations (SDG 9) and through our partnerships (SDG 17) we can accelerate and scale delivery across multiple SDGs.
Increased access to connectivity and our digital services – especially for women and those living in rural areas – through our network offers the possibility of greater equality of opportunity for economically disadvantaged people.
Vodafone promotes the use of energy efficiency solutions and renewables in our own operations, as well as supporting our customers to reduce their environmental impact.
Vodafone is committed to helping people develop their skills in order to address the mismatch between future workplace needs and the current skills of the new generation.