Employing over 2.5 million people in Uganda, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are the key driver of growth for the country’s economy. However, due to disruptions in the supply chain, travel restrictions, and changing work conditions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the SME was under threat of shrinking significantly and thus threatening the livelihoods of many microentrepreneurs. Stanbic Bank and Stanbic Business Incubator Limited have offered a variety of innovative products and services to assist entrepreneurs in addressing these challenges during the pandemic.

In May 2020, Stanbic Bank partnered with ConsumerCentriX to develop the COVID-19 Business Info Hub, an online platform that shares vital information and solutions for Ugandan enterprises and corporate clients coping with the financial effects of the pandemic. The goal of the platform is to eliminate misinformation surrounding COVID-19 resources by providing entrepreneurs with a centralized site to learn about new laws, regulations, support systems, and emerging innovations, alongside the provision of critical financial advice and business training relative to the crisis.

A Useful Resource

The site serves as a trusted resource for all Ugandan entrepreneurs seeking business information and relevant training courses.The site includes four resourceful sections:

  • Insights for my Business where entrepreneurs can find information on current policies, regulations and industry trends amidst the pandemic;
  • Growing My Skills which provides SMEs with access training opportunities with corresponding testimonials, and video animation tips aimed at increasing their capacity development;
  • How We Can Help which is centered around Stanbic Bank’s content and the measures it takes to support entrepreneurs including the tools they use to support them; and
  • Voices of Entrepreneurs created as a response to highlight topics often overlooked with catering to underserved markets, such as women entrepreneurs.

Content was developed based on the target market’s needs, by analysing popular content, but also through understanding what entrepreneurs are looking for. The covid-19 business info hub conducted a survey to understand SMEs preferences for content and communication. It found that training opportunities and financing sources are considered the most useful content. This survey also highlighted some discrepancies in content preferences by gender. For example,  while females prefer testimonials on training alumni, males are poised towards more videos and animations on tips to grow entrepreneurial skills.

Finally, 28% of respondents have accessed training or finance through the Covid-19 Business Info Hub, this shows how the site is meeting the gap between access to training, development and finance to entrepreneurs.

Raising Awareness

With over 53,600 website views and 38,380 visitors since inception, Facebook and Instagram profiles were also launched to further disseminate information through paid advertising. When the COVID-19 Business Info Hub was launched in 2020 it had zero followers, and its social media presence grown to over 9,350 followers and users had reposted over 8,400,000 times by 2022. The online community is thriving, with over 224,900 engagements, where SMEs reacted, commented, asked questions, and interacted with the content.

Visit the Covid-19 Business Info Hub 

Key Learnings

A few key learnings from the launch of the platform in 2020 to early 2022 include:

  • Videos and animations are essential for engaging with SMEs. Out of the top three most engaged Facebook posts, two were video animations including tips for their business and testimonials from other entrepreneurs.
  • Facebook has been the most successful platform in engaging with entrepreneurs, however, other platforms and search engines have supported in organically increasing outreach. Following trends and developing content in tandem has led to an increase in search engine referrals, which shows the value of the platform in providing much-needed support for Ugandan entrepreneurs.
  • Women need to be specifically targeted to reach gender parity. On average, women’s visitors account for 39% of total visitors. In order to support women entrepreneurs through their additional challenges and increase gender parity, it is critical to create content specifically targeting women entpreneurs. Moreover, when creating targeted promotions, we have seen a decrease in bounce rates and improvement in time spent per page, showing that the website content resonates with the audience and meets their needs.
  • Website views and visitors are closely correlated to the release and promotion of new pieces. Weekly traffic analyses demonstrate that it is vital to publish new materials and advertise as often as possible to drive visits to the portal and keep up to date with trends.
  • Partners are critical in bringing new perspectives and content development. Most viewed pieces are those referring to Stanbic Bank. Moreover, the bank is crucial in increasing content distribution and expanding outreach via WhatsApp and their databases.