News Release from the Small Business Institute

29 January 2018

SBI announces new board, focus on SME research

The SBI (formerly the AHI) has reconstituted its board of directors following the adoption of a new Memorandum of Incorporation. Each board member will be responsible and accountable for a specific portfolio and has been chosen for his or her expertise.

As a priority, the organisation will undertake several areas of research this year, exploring the impediments to SME development. The most significant will be a rigorous baseline study on the small business segment of the economy, a first for the country.

“South Africa is woefully lacking in authoritative research about small and medium enterprises,” said Chairman Bernard Swanepoel. “It’s ludicrous that we make assumptions about how many we have, let alone pile more laws and regulations on top of the sector most likely to create jobs in this country. We need to understand whether the decisions and activities by government and big business help or hinder SMEs to start, run and grow.”

He said the SBI’s new partnership with SBP ( will assist the organisation to root policy discussions in fact. The baseline study will capture the size, nature and characteristics of small firms operating in South Africa.  Conducted over three phases, the study, which will offer open-source access to the data and be peer-reviewed, should be completed by the end of the year. Thorough analysis using the data will be ongoing.

Other pieces of research examining the operating environment, red-tape and the supply of finance will give SBI evidence to promote more effective public positions on all matters concerning enterprise development, as well as a platform for a more cohesive voice for small business in the country’s public policy debates.

“The SBI is a member in Business Unity South Africa (BUSA ) and we hope to be a thorn in the side of bigger business and government, reminding them to ‘think small first’.  The evidence we collect and promote at BUSA’s table and through our five Indabas planned as well as township town hall meetings around the country will underscore our claim to be the Big Voice for Small Business,” said Swanepoel.

“It was humbling that the people we approached to help us this year agreed to direct our organisation. With their expertise and commitment to governance, inclusive growth and job creation in South Africa, our small and medium firms will benefit from their services,” said Swanepoel. The new board members and their portfolios are listed below.

Ashwin Willemse – Entrepreneurship and Youth

Bernard Swanepoel – Chairman

Chris Darroll- Research and Advocacy (alternate)

Ernest Messina – Corporate Relationships

Hettienne von Abo-Moolman – Sectoral Coordination

Ivan Pillay – Government Liaison

Jennifer Cohen – Research and Advocacy

Joe Mwase – BUSA Liaison

Octavia Matloa – Finance and Governance

Siki Mgabadeli – Communications

Sipho Nkosi – Vice Chairman and Vice President

Winda Austin-Loeve –  President and Chamber liaison

Yolisa Pikie – Government Liaison (alternate)



Further info

Bernard Swanepoel, Chairman – /083 303 9922

Siki Mgabadeli, Communications Director – 925 6469

Chris Darroll, Director SBI and CEO of the Small Business Project – 486-0797