Members of the Afrikaanse Handelsinstituut (AHI) have adopted a new memorandum of incorporation and a new name, the Small Business Institute (SBI).
“We would be proud if, over time, SBI becomes synonymous with credible research and public positions on all matters of interest to small business. Apart from a few hundred corporations and State-owned entities, over 95% of all businesses fall into this category,” SBI president Bernard Swanepoel said in a statement.
As a member of Business Unity South Africa, SBI brings together over 100 chambers which represent some of the estimated two-million small, medium-sized and microenterprises (SMMEs) in the country.
Small businesses contribute at least 40% of South Africa’s gross domestic product.
As the predominant creator of jobs in any society, Swanepoel said, the nine-million unemployed people in South Africa require a vibrant small business sector with prospects for growth and an enabling environment for success.
SBI has held a series of SMME indabas in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban. Two further indabas will be held in Bloemfontein and Johannesburg on October 11 and November 2, respectively.
Leaders from government and corporate South Africa, the media, political and economic analysts and inspirational entrepreneurs have participated, generating debate and supporting the challenges put to them by SBI.
Swanepoel noted that there is some frustration in the sector over the lack of comprehensive research.
“Though we continue to introduce layers of bureaucracy meant to assist SMMEs, we don’t even know how many exist, how many they employ, whether they are growing or contracting, what sectors they dominate and what challenges they face. We hope to raise sufficient funding to undertake a baseline study in the new year as a priority,” he said.