Western Cape Business News

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Recent Western Cape Business News

The UCT Graduate School of Business (GSB) will launch an innovative new course this June, which is aimed at bolstering the skills of professionals who design, manage and implement small, micro and medium enterprise (SMME) development programmes.

The first course of its kind in South Africa, the objective is to assist managers in the public and private sector, as well as local economic development specialists in the field of entrepreneurship promotion and small business development. The intention is to turn the tide of the poor entrepreneurship rates in the country.

According to Phindile Tshabangu, the Enterprise Development Manager with Shanduka Black Umbrellas business incubator in Cape Town, and the programme director of the new Entrepreneurship and SMME Development Programme at the UCT GSB, despite the significant amounts of money spent in setting up these institutions and the programmes that have been designed to address this sector, the country is still plagued by low levels of entrepreneurial activity and a limited success rate in the creation of sustainable small businesses.

The SMME sector has a significant and valuable contribution to make in sustainable and equitable social and economic development, as well as employment and wealth creation. Many countries (including South Africa) have allocated significant resources towards the development of this sector. The South African national government and corporates have, over the years, committed a lot of resources in direct investments to promote entrepreneurship in an effort to spur economic growth.

Although there are a myriad reasons why these institutions falter, two of the prominent reasons identified is that the programmes themselves are poorly design and/or implemented, and in instances where appropriate projects are ultimately designed, lack of experienced SMME development personnel who have the knowledge, and appreciation of starting and running a small business are in short supply,” said Tshabangu.

He added that as South Africa absorbs President Zuma’s address on the priorities for 2011, it is an ideal time to evaluate these programmes and the skills shortages hampering successful implementation.

The focus announced by Zuma for 2011 is on the economy and creating jobs. Small business is the engine room that will create much needed employment opportunities, and as such, South Africa needs to pay particular attention to improving its entrepreneurship rates, which have not compared well with other emergent economies as proven by the annual Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) report,” said Tshabangu.

On a positive note, he said that Zuma announced a re-alignment of SMME finance agencies; government will look at merging three of its funds that target small businesses – Khula, the SA Micro-Finance Apex Fund (Samaf) and the IDC's small business funding activities – into a single body. This would help government to avoid duplication of support, cut administrative costs and bolster the available funds for small enterprises.

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