Supporting SMEs vital for SA’s growth

If South Africa is to achieve the goal of 90% of employment opportunities being created by small and medium enterprises (SMEs) by 2030, marginalised communities must be empowered and big business needs to open the door to partnerships with emerging business, say local business experts.

Speaking ahead of the upcoming #BuyaBusiness expo and Small Business Expo, business experts say the SME sector presents strong growth opportunities, but that support is needed to ensure these new businesses are sustainable.

Xhanti Payi, head of research at Nascence Advisory and Research, who works with the Eskom Development Foundation to develop entrepreneurs, says it is in the interests of SMEs, big business and communities to support fledgling entrepreneurs.

“In a thriving economy, everyone wins. And helping small businesses to their feet is key to developing a thriving economy.” Helping address unemployment and develop new small business should not be seen as a charitable or CSI move, however, but rather as a win-win proposition that helps diversify the big business supplier base and build the economy to the benefit of all.

“For example, if the large retailer was prepared to give the potato farmer a chance, and help fund his ability to delivery by paying a percentage of the purchase price upfront; the retailer would both empower the farmer and be in a position to negotiate a discount on the stock it buys.”

He points out that in addition to the hurdle of securing funding, rural and township entrepreneurs who lack conventional ‘business polish’ are at a major disadvantage in negotiations with big business. “Say for example, that a rural potato farmer wants to become a supplier to a retailer – how does he access the right networks of people, how does he negotiate?”

Payi says the Eskom Development Foundation, through its various small business development programmes and Business Investment Competition, makes a significant contribution towards stimulating economic development and job creation.

“We see many young people with great ideas and high levels of enthusiasm – we aim to help them turn this into bankable business plans they can execute. By helping young entrepreneurs learn vital business, communications and marketing skills and access valuable business networks, we are making a visible difference to communities,” Payi explains.

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