SNG-Grant Thornton - Using tech to tap into Africa's growth

Yugen Pillay: Big businesses can use tech to grow small businesses and support the economy.

With the economy not doing well, the role of CFOs within the organisation will be more important than ever. Yugen Pillay, Director and Head of Business Process Improvement (BPI) at SNG-Grant Thornton, believes this will see new technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) play a significant role in helping cut costs, drive sales revenue, and help business manage risk more effectively.

“I will be discussing smart businesses at Finance Indaba Africa with my session based on AI, blockchain, and some of the other technologies out there that are becoming easier for companies to implement. Already, we are using software with AI capabilities built in. For example, clerks capture accounts from companies, allocate the same amount for a specific transaction several times, and if hey input incorrectly, they receive a pop-up warning that this is not a regular occurrence.”

For SNG-Grant Thornton, it is about selling solutions and improving business processes.

Yugen says: 

“Because the economy is slowing down, the best practice is to grow small businesses as they can grow the economy and hire faster. We consult to large corporates and review their supply chains. In this way we can either help upscale the small businesses they have or create new ones to meet in their requirements. Part of this entails going to the townships and communities where people are unemployed and get them plugged in to the supply chain.”

He believes this also fulfils an important role in getting younger people inside a business.

“They are more comfortable with new technologies and have a different way of thinking. As a corporate, you look at staff members and listen to their needs and expectations. Already, this results in a more flexible work environment when the business starts listening to the young employees,” he says. 

 

To grow the country, investments are needed in people and technologies to evolve and adapt to a new digital environment.

Yugen says: 

“Africa is growing at a phenomenal rate. We can only really tap into this growth using technology. And through technology, people are becoming closer irrespective of where they are working from on the continent. Yet, there is still a big equality gap in the country. Technology can be expensive, and a small start-up may not be able to adapt quickly enough. This is where corporates can look at spending their community social investment funds and help these smaller companies get access to technology.”

Once accessibility improves, he says, then smaller businesses can really become innovative and embrace the likes of AI and other solutions to drive value for more inclusive growth.