South Africans need to think of themselves as job creators rather than just job seekers said Minister of Small Business Stella Ndabeni Abrahams. Ndabeni-Abrahams was part of a panel discussion on small business during the fourth South African Investment Conference 2022 in Sandton Johannesburg yesterday (Thursday 24 March 2022) that was officially opened by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
In 2018 the president committed to raising R1.2 trillion in five years to boost economic growth and stimulate employment. By the close of business yesterday 95% (R1,14 trillion) of the R1,2 trillion, was raised in pledges for investments in the country. By the start of the conference yesterday, Ramaphosa said, “we were two-thirds of the way to reaching the R1,2 trillion target. Of the R774 billion committed, around R316 billion has so far been invested. Of the 152 investment pledges, 45 projects have been completed.
“A further 57 are under construction. Fifteen have been put on hold, in several cases due to the impact of the pandemic, he said. The investments are spread across mining, manufacturing, agriculture, the digital economy and more. Ramaphosa yesterday said the investments that have been realised since the first conference had created job opportunities, increased localisation, and expanded local value chains. They also brought skills, technology, and know-how into our economy.
Ndabeni-Abrahams urged black-owned SMMEs to move away from confining themselves to state markets and added that more than 80% of national output is driven by the private sector. “We need to focus much more on how small enterprises can be more competitive in these non-state markets. We have the B-BBEE Codes of Good Practice to enable local content and supplier development but collectively have not done enough to ensure the necessary quality and standards required to sustain these markets”.
She said there was a need to cultivate a new entrepreneurial spirit in South Africa as part of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan’s intent to build back better. “The National Development Plan correctly points to SMMEs as the country’s jobs driver. Some 9 million of the 11 million jobs we need to create – now 13 million after COVID – are expected to come from the SMME sector,” said Ndabeni Abrahams.
She said there was a need for clear plans and actions from both the public and private sectors to deepen the impact of the investments received. “We need to make sure that every rand invested in the country creates as many jobs and entrepreneurial activities as possible, and especially for historically under-served communities like black-owned enterprises, women, and youth, said Ndabeni Abrahams.