SMMEs are crucial to South Africa’s post-pandemic recovery, says the new president of Business Unity SA (Busa), Prof. Bonang Mohale, who is also chancellor of the University of Free State.
Mohale, who has held several executive positions and is the current chairperson of the Bidvest Group Limited told Vutivi News, that the country needed to do much more to promote and grow the sector. He called on business, labour and the government to collaborate to boost small businesses. “We lag behind our peers in doing this, and the contribution of SMMEs to our economy is relatively lower,” he said.
“The small business sector is in crisis. The small business sector has suffered huge job losses because of Coronavirus lockdowns and is an area where help is failing and where interventions need to be adjusted to have a rapid and significant effect.”
Mohale said that before his appointment, Busa had called on the government to settle its invoices with SMMEs.
Busa has advocated for businesses and the state to pay SMMEs within 30 days of an invoice, which is in line with government policy on state payments. “At a time that South Africa holds the highest failure rate of SMMEs (highest inequality, highest unemployment and lowest educational outcomes) in the world, the ease of doing business must be improved,” he said.
“SMMEs need simple, streamlined and inexpensive processes to register and license business.” Mohale also told Vutivi News that labour regulations needed to be less onerous. “SMMEs should be able to employ people at a reasonable cost, without a negative impact on equity and fairness to employees,” he said.
“Corporates must give access to include, encourage and promote SMMEs online in their own procurement value chains. “The key to saving small businesses is being prepared and able to act swiftly and joining hands with relief organisations like the Sukuma Fund,” Mohale said.
The fund was established during the lockdown with an initial R1 billion donation from the Rupert family and Remgro Limited. Since then, it has received tens of millions of Rands in donations. Its goal is to rescue and revive thousands of small businesses across the country, preserve jobs and support those who depend on them. Mohale also said that Busa’s relationship with the new minister of Small Business Development, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, would be collaborative and robust.
“Hopes are high that Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams will take the department to new heights by building upon the foundation laid by her predecessor,” Mohale said.
“We look forward to working with her towards this important segment of our economy to play its rightful role as the backbone of the economy and the sector where most of our workers are employed through our SMME task team.”
Mohale replaces former Busa president Sipho Pityana, whose term of office came to an end in August. Adrian Gore, who is the founder and CEO of South Africa’s leading medical insurer, Discovery Holdings, a businessman and entrepreneur, has been appointed as his deputy.