Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey

Smart SME Platform launched

17.09.2021 / Ankara

The Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB) and Visa announced the Smart SME platform for SMEs who want to realize digital transformation in their business with an online meeting attended by Minister of Industry and Technology Mustafa Varank, TOBB President M. Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu and Visa Turkey General Manager Merve Tezel.​

TOBB President M. Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu said at the meeting, “SMEs make up the most important part of the enterprises operating in our country's economy. Large enterprises carry out their production with the support of SMEs, and they can market their products and services with the support of SMEs.”

Stating that SMEs are among the important suppliers of the public, Hisarcıklıoğlu said, “The wheels of the economy are actually built on SMEs. I always say that SMEs in our country operate as the backbone of our economy, the driving force of employment and growth, and the cornerstone of economic and social development. More than 99% of our members are SMEs. As such, SMEs are a priority on TOBB's working agenda. We are developing policies for SMEs and working for SMEs.”

Hisarcıklıoğlu underlined that one of the important issues affecting the private sector is the rapid change and development of technologies. “SMEs are also the most affected by new technologies. That's why we say, 'SMEs need to go digital now'. On the other hand, the need for digitalization, which increases with the pandemic, affects SMEs the most. SMEs that fail to realize their digital transformation have difficulty continuing their commercial lives and are lagging behind in competition. With the pandemic, digitalization has become a necessity. Businesses with technological infrastructure ready were among the least affected by the pandemic with the help of e-commerce and remote working systems and digital payment channels.

As TOBB, we have intensified our efforts on the digitalization of SMEs and started to develop more projects. During these efforts, we have identified a significant and fundamental deficiency in the field. There is a lack of communication and trust between companies that offer solutions for digitalization and SMEs that want to digitize. We have developed the Smart SME project to eliminate these problems and create a reliable platform that will gather all the work on digitalization under one roof. Visa sponsored this project.”

Hisarcıklıoğlu stated that with this project, SMEs and technology suppliers are brought together on a platform, “Technology suppliers exhibit their products and services free of charge on this platform. SMEs can also review digital products and services classified according to category, sector and business scale through the platform and communicate with technology suppliers. With the digital maturity assessment tool, SMEs will be able to learn where they are in digitalization, where they need digital transformation and what products they need to use. In addition, SMEs are guided on digital transformation through education, guidance services and awareness studies. On the other hand, together with Smart SME, we are creating a new concept for digitalization. With this new concept, we will attract the attention of SMEs and accelerate their decision-making on digital transformation with platform services.”

Emphasizing that they have actually launched a digitalization campaign with smart SME, Hisarcıklıoğlu said, “We describe this platform as a digitalization base, a digital transformation center. Because public support for digitalization and digital transformation is very important for the formation of an effective ecosystem.”

Reiterating that they have launched this platform in order to accelerate the decisions of SMEs in digital transformation, Hisarcıklıoğlu said that their ultimate goal is to create Turkey's Digital Transformation Technology Power together with the technology suppliers on the platform, to open technology suppliers to new markets and to direct them to exports.

Hisarcıklıoğlu invited all technology companies to operate as suppliers on the Smart SME platform and to register all SMEs to benefit from these services offered.

- Minister of Industry and Technology Mustafa Varank

“The dynamics of the age necessitate the journey to a social or economic digital transformation for all of us,” said Minister of Industry and Technology Mustafa Varank.

Varank stated that the working methods, business environment and business development processes are transformed by the accelerator effect of Covid-19, and said that this transformation should be translated into opportunity by being prepared for the medium-term effects of the epidemic.

Varank emphasized that this transformation can be achieved with SMEs, “Competent human resources, a healthy functioning infrastructure, effective and strategic collaborations, high R&D and innovation capacity. With an SME ecosystem built on these four main pillars, Turkey will increase its competitiveness and the added value it creates.”

Varank stated that success at this point will not be through individual or sectoral initiatives, and that this will be done with a correctly constructed team game.

Varank pointed out the importance of public, private sector, universities and non-governmental organizations acting with this synergy and stated that the Smart SME Platform, which will support SMEs in their digitalization journeys, shows that they have the same priority and vision as stakeholders.

Emphasizing that the current situation of enterprises should be analyzed, digital transformation needs should be determined and digital transformation roadmaps specific to them should be prepared, Varank said, “In this direction, we design special education programs at MEXT, the world's largest digital transformation and competency development center, whether white or blue collar. In this center, we launched the 'Internet of Industrial Objects Accelerating the Digital Transformation of SMEs' project through TUBITAK TÜSSİDE. Our goal is to increase the technology literacy of our SMEs and make them qualified technology exporters.”

Varank pointed out that there is also the financial support dimension of the business, and reported that KOSGEB supports SMEs in all areas.

Varank stated that they are working on a new tax incentive program in the field of digital transformation, adding: “In order to accelerate digital transformation, we will include the digital transformation expenditures of our SMEs as tax incentives. Businesses that want to benefit from the program will first subject them to the maturity evaluation process, and then we will draw up a digitalization roadmap. You set your goals; we open the way for you. You're going to try; we will support you. We will achieve this by consulting, working together and developing. In the digitalization journey of our SMEs, I find the Smart SME Platform, such a participatory, inclusive and multi-stakeholder cooperation network, valuable. I congratulate TOBB and visa Turkey, the financier of the platform, for this beautiful cooperation.”

- Merve Tezel: “We hope the Smart SME will be a digitalization base”

Merve Tezel, Managing Director of Visa Turkey, said, “The pandemic process has made the digitization of SMEs an important need. The fact that the Smart SME platform we have implemented today in cooperation with TOBB met with such intense interest by service providers shows that we are doing the right thing. At Visa, we have included the I Manage My Business trainings on the platform. I am happy to share that we will provide the first 50 SMEs who have completed the trainings with the digitalization and e-commerce entry package free of charge. The Visa World tab on the platform is a guide for SMEs on the world of payments, and they will also be able to follow the benefits and campaigns we will offer them as Visa and our member banks here. I hope that smart SME will be a digitalization base where SMEs can meet all their needs from a single point.”

- Smart SME Platform

Smart SME is the first platform in our country to bring together a wide ecosystem with SMEs on the road to digital transformation. The platform, which can be accessed from akillikobi.org.tr address, will serve as a special digital transformation base for SMEs with its products, services, information and trainings. SMEs visiting smart SMEs will be able to discover their needs on the basis of categories or sectors and meet with suppliers offering these products and services. In addition, SMEs will be able to test themselves for digitalization, see their level, and receive training if they want. In this way, SMEs will meet all their needs for digitalization from A to Z on the Smart SME platform.

- The most comprehensive content on the path to digitization

The 'Knowledge Base' tab, which will include useful content and videos on the smart SME platform, is intended to be Turkey's most comprehensive digital transformation information center. In addition to this content, with the support of Visa, 'I Manage My Business' SME trainings were included in the 'SME Academy' tab. The training videos consisting of 7 titles and 47 modules with Boğaziçi University faculty members and experts in the field were designed to strengthen the financial discipline and digitalization skills of SMEs. In addition to these trainings that will strengthen the capacities of SMEs, in the 'Visa World and Payments' section of the platform, all the information that SMEs will need about payments is explained in two headings: card payment and card acceptance. In addition, in this section, SMEs can access the commercial Visa card and POS campaigns of financial institutions specific to Smart SME.

- Digitalization level test from TUBITAK to SMEs

SMEs who sign up for the platform are offered the opportunity to determine their current status on digital transformation with the “Digital Transformation Maturity Assessment” tool prepared by TUBITAK Turkey Industrial Dispatch and Administration Institute. SMEs will be able to get support in preparing short- and medium-term roadmaps according to the results and needs.

- Interest in the first phase was intense

Nearly 800 suppliers offering products and services for digitalization have signed up to the platform since the first phase of smart SME was announced in May. What these companies offer, services such as cloud and artificial intelligence solutions, e-export, virtual POS solutions, mobile developers, data analysis are grouped under a total of 80 headings in 12 main categories. SMEs can access these products and services with appropriate payment conditions by directing them to the sites of suppliers.

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