‘WEF Africa has snubbed SMEs’

By NJABULO BUTHELEZI in Durban
DURBAN, (CAJ News) -SMALL and medium enterprises (SMEs) should be a bigger priority as political, business and other leaders from across Africa gather at events such events as the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Durban.
This is according to an expert, Anton van Heerden, who described SME as a sector that represents the economic future of the continent but was still not being heard by the people shaping economic policies.
Recent research by Sage shows that 49 percent of small businesses in South Africa do not feel fairly represented in the country’s political decision making.
“Their limited inclusion at forums such as WEF Africa simply confirms that policymakers should allow more time to really understand and provide solutions addressing their concerns,” said van Heerden.
He is the Sage Managing Director and Executive Vice-President for Africa and Middle East.
Van Heedern said as owner-driven and managed enterprises, SMES created wealth for families and communities as well as much-needed jobs for local people.
“In fact, small businesses create two thirds of all the jobs in most economies, and represent over 98 percent of all businesses,” he said.
He nonetheless welcomed that Lindiwe Zulu, South Africa Minister of Small Business Development, acknowledged the role of SMEs in addressing inequality and poverty in “one of the few talks” at WEF to focus on small business.
“It’s also good to see that the data affordability issues facing small business are being addressed.”
Van Heerden meanwhile said the  launch of the South Africa Internet for All project this week, in partnership between the Government of South Africa and WEF, was welcome.
One of its aims will be to explore how Internet for All can better support the development of SMEs.
“We’d love to see more initiatives like this, with more emphasis on listening to business builders to find out how policymakers can support their growth.”
CAJ News

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