Mediamark and Jacaranda FM have partnered with leading North American marketing technology firm Vendasta to launch Jacaranda FM DigiEngage. The offering is a turnkey service to drive and transform SME business in the online space.

A drive to offer free airtime to small business in distress in March and April this year saw Jacaranda FM and East Coast Radio give 40 small businesses R32-million in airtime.

"The sheer number of SMEs that came to both East Coast Radio and Jacaranda FM for assistance was overwhelming," says Nick Grubb, CEO of Kagiso Media Radio.

"This made us realise the immense power our radio brands wield in the local community and a need for us to ramp up involvement in this sector. Small business is the lifeblood of any local economy and Jacaranda FM's community of listeners are made up of thousands of now struggling entrepreneurs," adds Grubb.

The radio station indicates that one of the main areas that has held back small business has been their lack of digital transformation and e-commerce capability, relative to the bigger market players.

The station adds that the lack of access to resources made it difficult to take businesses quickly online in the face of declining or non-existent 'bricks and mortar' revenues.

Wayne Bischoff, Mediamark CEO, says, "We believe we have found a partner that understands local business at its core and is able to tailor its approach and packaging for the South African Market."

"This platform will give Jacaranda FM an opportunity to offer their SME listener base affordable digital packages including e-commerce websites, social media marketing, SEO and other online marketing tools," adds Bischoff.

"Jacaranda FM DigiEngage will also give SME's access to a network of global resources including weekly online seminars, helping local businesses thrive in their market," Bischoff adds.

Jacaranda FM's managing director Deirdre King says, "This tailored approach for small business is a first-of-its-kind in South Africa. We are passionate about helping our community to survive and thrive and we believe Jacaranda FM DigiEngage can really help with digital transformation in a sector that desperately needs it."

"We are hoping that through the platform we can educate the market, translate the jargon and offer a cost-effective way to help small businesses build their digital reputation," adds King.

Vendasta chief customer officer George Leith says that they are proud that their technology is helping SMEs across South Africa through the expertise of Jacaranda FM and Mediamark.

"Since COVID-19 struck the world, we've seen a rapid acceleration of digital solutions adoption to help drive stronger connections between customers and the businesses that serve them. This is a tremendous opportunity to arm local businesses with a strategy and solutions to transition their digital customer experience," Leith concludes.

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