Undoubtedly, despite all of the bad press, South Africa is on the right track. Much like the success of the United States, South Africa has begun to focus on growing its small enterprises as drivers of the economy. In an official release, it was announced that Minister of Small Business Development, Ms Lindiwe Zulu, delivered resources and equipment to support small businesses in mid February.
Details of the official release indicate that, “This is part of the Department’s and its agency Seda’s Informal and Micro Enterprise Development Programme (IMEDP) which aims to uplift business owners in the informal sector with tools and equipment to sustain their businesses as well as to provide mentorship and training. Minister Zulu is on a nationwide campaign to uplift township and rural economies and has already visited several towns in KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, Northern Cape and Limpopo”
South Africa has seen wide swings and market contractions since its former president Jacob Zuma was forced to step down in 2016. While 2011 was South Africa’s highest GDP on record, the southern nation has begun to see a positive turnaround, mostly noted in 2017 when its GDP jumped from 295.7 Billion USD to 349.4 Billion USD the following year. It will be fascinating to see whether South Africa will be among the first African nations to fully recognize the economic power that small businesses bring to the national and in turn fund them accordingly. South Africa’s move toward funding small businesses is a pivotal move on the continent where small business has been largely ignored in favor of massive multinationals and international governmental tenders in the area of development and industry.
Africa has paid a high price for ignore the capitalization of its smaller industries and businesses as there is little recourse for the population when economic downturns and geopolitical changes negatively affect major markets. Such mechanization often leave average Africans struggling to survive and allowing unemployment to skyrocket.
The focus on small business and its importance to the economy is being underscored by the South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, as he played host to a job summit and made a commitment to creating, “a township and rural entrepreneurship fund to support South Africans with businesses in townships and rural areas.”