Summit emphasises imperativeness of supporting SMMEs

21st May 2024 By: Tasneem Bulbulia - Senior Contributing Editor Online

Small, medium-sized and microenterprises (SMMEs) in the country are grappling with various challenges, including a lack of coordination between the public and private sectors, insufficient financial support, addressing the skills gap and empowerment through funding and government support.

Despite this, SMMEs have often managed to remain resilient in the face of these challenges.

Moreover, there are measures that can be undertaken to mitigate the challenges, such as mentorship of entrepreneurs, implementing the correct culture and proper leadership to address organisational issues.

For their part, entrepreneurs should focus on bolstering their emotional intelligence, self-awareness and social skills, as well as networking and building relationships with the requisite stakeholders to further their goals and businesses, speakers outlined during the Absa – South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci) National SMME Summit, held in Sandton, on May 21.

The Department of Small Business Development deputy director-general said the country’s SMME sector was not in a position to create the required jobs needed to address the country’s well documented high unemployment rate.

Moreover, it was indicated that while the department has been pursuing interventions to assist SMMEs, these have not had the desired effect. For example, once training has taken place, SMMEs often do not succeed, as there is not a market for their business.

Also, the importance of a collaborative approach was emphasised, as the department did not possess the capacity to undertake the necessary SMME development alone and additional private sector resources and finances were also needed.

It was also mentioned that the department had recently concluded updating the National Small Enterprise Act, with the Bill currently in the President’s office for ascension. The Bill is expected to streamline support for SMMEs.

The partnership between Sacci and Absa was also underlined, with this indicated to be important in providing support for and bolstering the SMME landscape in the country.

Last year alone, Absa allocated R4.2-billion in support of SMMEs, it was highlighted, and there was room to grow this.