Despite the challenges of COVID-19, SITA has continued supporting education and economic empowerment for disadvantaged groups in South Africa. This commitment is made as part of SITA’s corporate social responsibility strategy to support the communities wherever in the world it operates and of Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) requirements in South Africa.
Since 2015, SITA has invested in the acceleration, growth, and sustainability of 15 Small, Medium, and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) in South Africa, primarily for IT. Many have become suppliers of SITA. The aim of the business development program – managed by service-provider Raizcorp on behalf of SITA – is to increase the participation of black-owned SMMEs, both within SITA’s supply chain and in the broader South African economy.
In this interview, owner of Dots Connect Technology (Pty) Ltd, Samuel Sekgobela, shares his story.
How would you describe your enterprise?
Dots Connect Technology (Pty) Ltd, established in October 2016, aims to provide quality and cost-effective IT services to various industries in the country in response to the growing demand for IT services and infrastructure. We offer ISP (Internet Service Providers), Office 365, data analytics, and cloud services. We also resell hardware and software.
We supply our clients with IT expertise, skills, and services to take away the worry of IT challenges so they can focus on what they do best.
What was your driver to set up Dots Connect Technology?
Well, many of my family members and friends would ask me to connect or fix their devices. Basically, for anything IT-related, they would call me. I realized a gap in the market: people who need help with setting up and connecting their IT equipment, operating devices, and more. That was what drove me to start Dots Connect Technology, to overcome this digital divide – those less proficient versus those more experienced – to connect people and enable them to leverage technology to achieve their goals.
Shortly after setting up the business, I branched out and began providing internet services. There was a gap and a large market for this. I have a background in IT networking, so I decided to add networking as one of our service offerings: installing and configuring internet access points. From there, we were issued with an ICASA (Independent Communications Authority of South Africa*) license and are now officially an internet service provider.
How has the SITA-funded business development support assisted you?
When COVID-19 and travel restrictions were enforced, it had a considerable impact on us. Lockdown limited our movement, so it wasn’t easy to generate business yet we still had to cover monthly overheads.
However, as most people shifted to work from home and accessing the internet or having internet at home became critical, it created a new business opportunity.
We could access funding from SITA to cover some of our operational expenses and support our marketing and branding efforts for new business opportunities as an internet service provider. It also enabled us to build our network set-up to provide people in underdeveloped urban areas with wireless or fiber internet access.
As well as funding, I had a mentor to talk to and guide me. This was invaluable as the program mentors always encouraged me to look at other opportunities and told me not to give up. If I had not been part of this program, I don’t know where my business would be now. I made it through - having someone to back me up and give me that hope, education and all the tools I needed.
I understand the importance of well-managed finances. I know how many clients I need to sign up to break even. Before the program, I didn’t have that knowledge. Now I know how to set targets, how to budget, and what my company margins are.
What does the future hold for Dots Connect Technology?
Our mission is to become a household name for telecommunications in South Africa. We aim to have a national footprint, providing fiber-optic internet and Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) to businesses and consumers.
* ICASA is a regulator and license issuing authority for telecommunications and broadcasting in South Africa.