A 75-year-old, not-for-profit organisation
A Member of Business Unity South Africa (BUSA)
Constituted to promote the economic and business interest of South Africa’s chamber organisations and thousands of SMEs in the wider economy.
Stands for sustainable, market-led job creation, inclusive economic growth, transformation and ethical leadership
More than 95% of registered businesses in the world are small in size, employing fewer than 250 people and account for 60%-70% of the entire working population. Not in South Africa, where SMMEs – far fewer than previously believed – provide jobs for only 28%. To create employment for over nine million people without work, policy makers and regulators must support an environment that is conducive to the growth and competitiveness of South Africa’s small and medium enterprises. The SBI commits to the President’s nation-building programme of Thuma Mina and will seek to influence the creation of an enabling environment for the SME segment of the economy, which traverses all sectors.
The SBI exists positively influence the environment for SMEs in South Africa. Small and medium size enterprises create jobs and power economies. We stand for a free-market approach to growing SMEs, creating jobs, and providing ethical leadership. We envision a country where small- and medium-sized businesses are supported by thoughtful, evidence-based policy that limits obstacles to their success and sustainability and the private sector works to eliminate structural obstacles to competition, access to markets and effective entry into supply chains.
SBI advocates for policy makers and big businesses to ‘think small first’. We lobby for government to consider and support the sustainability of SMEs in legislation, regulation and procurement policies. Our campaigns include big businesses where SME-supportive supply chain management and payment terms contribute to a thriving sector.
2019 in review
2019 has been a busy year for SBI. Our core objective remains highlighting issues of concern to SMEs and business chamber members and ensuring they are in the forefront of our nation’s policy debates. The strengthening of our Board of Directors and work by our executive team means we’re starting to see some traction from the advocacy SBI and others who are determined to make small business at the heart of the country’s growth and employment strategy.
Many key policy documents and leaders from all political parties have included concerns we have highlighted via social media and dozens of press releases, op-eds and radio and TV interviews. It’s pleasing to see more than a few proposals and new initiatives aimed at issues like municipal dysfunction, improving the ease of doing business and access to finance.
We held two #SMEIndabas [this should link to the Indaba page] this year with increasingly productive sessions involving the participation of many panellists charged with improving the country’s business environment. In April we provided the only platform for the country’s three largest political parties to debate their manifestos and heard from BUSA President Sipho Pityana, GG Alcock, author of Kasinomic Revolution, and then-parliamentary portfolio committee on small business chair Ruth Bhengu.
Both Indabas ventured into the territory of municipal dysfunction where we heard from Chamber members, the Township Economic Alliance, SALGA, CoGTA, the SA Cities Network and experts on renewable energy in the face of Eskom’s deteriorating service delivery, Agri SA and the Thulamela Business Forum.
Representatives from SARS, the World Bank’s IFC, Trade and Industry Policy Strategies (TIPS), shareholder activism, and the Western Cape’s highly effective Red Tape Reduction Unit.
The SBI’s chamber membership drive continued and we signed up chambers representing thousands more SMEs who value our Big Voice for Small Business.
The year ahead
In 2020, the SBI will continue to campaign against the late payment of invoices and will build alliances to raise awareness and put pressure on government and business to pay SMEs on time. Our research into international best practice will continue since we believe we do not have to re-invent the wheel to build an environment conducive to starting, running and growing a business.
We will continue to expand the organisation’s membership – and mandate to speak for SMEs – by encouraging the formation of chambers in cities, small towns and particularly townships. Where chambers do not exist, SBI will accept direct membership of SMEs and entrepreneurs and we are exploring linkages with township alliances and business forums. As affiliates of the SBI they can be part of our surveys and focus groups as we develop positions to influence government.
We continue to seek funds to advance SBP’s invaluable and much-needed research, hoping to help with Phase Two of the SME Baseline Study. Funds are required to conduct further data mining, focus groups, a bouquet of surveys, road shows to small towns for community-level consultation and, ultimately, the drafting and dissemination of a new strategic White Paper for government which will advance small business in South Africa. (SBP wrote the first one in 1995).
SBI is also exploring a relationship with the YES for Youth initiative to help place interns as an interim skills development and unemployment alleviation measure.
Early in 2020 we will release a comprehensive manual for new and existing business chambers.
Tel: 012 348 5440