9 February 2012
The Department of Trade and Industry wants to run a regular small business census to help improve its support and funding to the sector as part of a revised policy to boost support to small businesses.
Briefing a National Council of Provinces’ select committee in Cape Town this week, the department’s Mojalefa Mohoto said the department would approach the South African Revenue Service (Sars) to run the census.
Unlike countries such as India and Malaysia, South Africa does not have a government-run census on small businesses, leaving the government to rely on adhoc reports on small business by the private sector when it wants to access statistics on the challenges facing local small enterprises.
Mohoto said a small business census would be important to create a baseline study and defuse confusion about the number of small businesses operating in South Africa.
The department is seeking to revamp its 2005 Integrated Small Business Policy and amend the 2005 Small Business Amendment Act by strengthening partnerships, capacity at small business support institutions and by broadening small firms’ access to markets.
It also wants to strengthen the role of the National Small Business Advisory Council, which advises the Trade and Industry minister on issues affecting small businesses, promotes the interests of the sector, and monitors the effectiveness of government policies, programmes and institutions designed to develop the sector.
Working with business chambers
The department also plans to work more closely with business chambers so that chambers help the government to deliver some of its support programmes, said Mohoto, adding that the department was already looking at improving chambers’ capacity – particularly those in rural areas.
Over time, the idea is to delegate certain basic functions to sector associations, Mohoto said.
To improve the quality of business mentors, a problem which has long frustrated small enterprises, the department will meet with Business Unity SA (Busa) and the Institute of Business Advisors (IBA) to formulate a national programme to develop and accredit quality business advisors.
It is already working with the Department of Higher Education to standardise training for business mentors.
Creating more business incubators
The department has also mooted the idea of providing SMME support agencies with core funding and getting them to bid for the remainder of their funding by submitting proposals for project funding.
It department is further looking at expanding the number of business incubators, from the current 30 to 250 in the next few years. It has already received 20 new proposals for incubators and is working with major companies to bring these to fruition.