Last week Telkom launched Yep!, a new mobile app that acts as a marketplace for small businesses to provide their services to consumers and other businesses across South Africa.
“Think of Yep! as a ‘friend’ to small businesses, as it provides a scalable solution to help grow and enhance their reach,” Lunga Siyo, chief executive officer of Telkom Business, said in a statement.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has far-reaching effects, none of which paint a bright future for many businesses and even more so in South Africa where small to medium-sized enterprises form the backbone of the economy.”
Yep is part of a bigger play to transform Telkom into a leading aggregator of small business, a role traditionally played by Yellow Pages but increasingly taken over by search engines, social networks, and other key aggregators, like home services portals and delivery apps.
The previous week, Telkom launched Freed, a consumer-facing portal that offers reward points to consumers for interacting with local business content.
The Yep! website offers this rationale for why small businesses should participate on the platform.
“Yep! is a marketplace where small businesses become online, digital businesses. Create a storefront with your business logo and business branding. List all the services your business offers, with pricing. Receive requests for quotes from your customers and chat to them directly on the marketplace.”
Telkom further describes Yep! as “a virtual mall where small businesses sell directly to their customers, other small businesses, and even to our large corporate partners.”
Supporting small business
‘Yep’ is not only the name of a new marketplace. It will also evolve into brand for Telkom’s Yellow Pages business, which has been folded into the SMB division under Lunga Siyo’s leadership.
Siyo offered some pre-launch comments on Yep, its purpose and rationale in a recent interview on BIG5D TV.
“Aggregating an ecosystem of services on behalf of small businesses is going to become a huge play,” Lunga said.
Lunga noted that developing the small business market is a top priority for Telkom. AND it should be for South Africa’s economy as a whole. Small business needs to become a much bigger component of South Africa’s GDP if the country is going to grow.
“Larger enterprises are not going to create jobs,” Lunga said. He added that, if anything, larger enterprises will digitize more of their operations.
“Small business can create a lot of jobs and bring a lot of people into the formal economy.”
So what about Yep!?
Lunga said they were seeking a brand that stood apart from Telkom’s recognizable blue and Yellow Pages. And more importantly, a brand that resonates with younger consumers and business owners.
“If you ask someone if they can find a plumber for you, instead of ‘yes,’ they will say ‘yep,” Lunga said. So it was from this vernacular the new brand was born.