By Moipone Malefane
To assert that 2022 has been a hard year in the business environment, and for SMMEs particularly, would be an understatement.
While SMMEs make up most businesses in South Africa, and are essential for the country’s growth, sustainability and job creation, the year has only emphasised the usual obstacles they encounter to get off the ground, operate and upscale.
Many of these enterprises have also had to struggle to recover from the devastating blows of the Covid-19 pandemic, severe flooding in many parts of the country, the 2021 civil unrest in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, load-shedding, and the cost-of-living crisis.
Vutivi Business News, which launched in October 2020 and is itself a small business, has spent more than two years focusing on telling the story of SMMEs.
Not only do we highlight the government’s wins and losses, we cover how policy is developed and delayed, publish advice from experts to support business development, and profile the herculean efforts of countless small business owners across the country.
In no small part due to our efforts, this year has seen a concerted focus on the plight of SMMEs. That is as it should be, since we will not solve our economic troubles without a singular focus on supporting small business and encouraging entrepreneurship.
In this spirit, we at Vutivi Business News call on South Africa’s social partners to make the support of SMMEs a top priority in their plans. There are many ways to accomplish this, from better policy co-ordination, to targeted procurement, ending the silo approach we have developed, and redoubling our efforts in localisation and buy local campaigns.
There have been positive steps. At least at the level of dialogue, we are doing better. This year we had the first National Presidential SMME and Co-operatives Summit, and a number of events and conferences organised by the Department of Small Business Development and its agencies, and financial institutions partnered with media houses to discuss the state of SMMEs. Township and rural economies have become a focus of dialogue too. These geographies are where many of our people are based, and so it makes sense that many of our entrepreneurs and innovators should come from these areas and receive the necessary support.
It is imperative that this increased dialogue translates into concrete action in 2023.
We wish all our readers a peaceful and joyous time over the holidays. Let us rest and come back next year with renewed focus on the potential engine of our economic and social development: the small business sector.