Top 5 things SMEs want from government

By Drum Digital
09 October 2015

A new research study shows there are five things South African business owners would especially like government to help them with in order for them to thrive.

They would like the SA government to control energy and utility costs, to reduce red tape, to simplify labour regulation, to reduce business rates and taxes and to bring stability to foreign exchange rates.

According to the latest research by international enterprise software company Sage, 96% of South African business owners claim never to have received financial or other support from the national government as they strive to build their companies.

More than half (54%) of small and medium enterprise (SME) owners in SA also indicated that they did not take a holiday last year and 70% put in more time than the standard 40 hour-week to grow their businesses.

Compared to statistics from other countries, South African entrepreneurs are making strong contributions towards job creation and supporting volunteer work among their employees, according to the research.

Of the respondents, 32% said that they expect to hire more than five employees in the next two years, while 10% said they’ll hire as many as 20 employees in two years.

"This highlights just how important the small business sector will be in helping to reverse the current trend of job losses in South African industries such as mining and telecoms," said Sage.

"An impressive 80% of South African business owners make personal donations to charities and non-profit organisations, while 32% encourage their employees to volunteer. This shows how a prosperous SME helps to create and share wealth throughout the community."

According to Ivan Epstein, CEO of Sage AAMEA (Africa, Australia, Middle East and Asia) and the chair of the Sage Foundation SMEs are the engine of the SA economy and these entrepreneurial leaders should be seen as heroes willing to take risks and make sacrifices to try and create growth and jobs.

“Against this backdrop, it is encouraging to hear the Ministry of Small Business call for the private and public sectors to work together to invest in and support small businesses and cooperatives to reduce the levels of poverty in South Africa. The right kind of support from government could change the trajectory of the local economy as a whole,” said Epstein.

In his view one of the biggest barriers to the success of SMEs in South Africa is education.

Last month research by the SA Institute of Chartered Accountants (Saica) found the main reasons for SME failure were cash flow related. The survey also found that SME success increased with mentorship and technical assistance.

Red tape also came up in this survey as one of the big issues businesses would like government to tackle.

Saica said it will share its 2015 survey results with various government departments in the hope that it could influence policies for the small business sector.

The National Development Plan (NDP) tasks SMEs with creating 90% of new employment by 2030.

Source: Fin24

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