JOHANNESBURG, July 2 – Small and medium businesses should not feel comfortable in that league but continue to grow and contribute to the developmental agenda, Small Business Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu said on Sunday.
“Yes, I am a minister of small and medium enterprises as well as co-operatives, but I have absolutely no intention of working towards those SMMEs and informal businesses to remain just that. The greater responsibility, as a minister of small and medium enterprises working together with other ministers, is to see black business grow,” Zulu told guests at a Progressive Business Forum breakfast at the African National Congress’s 5th national policy conference currently under way in Johannesburg.
“That is our mandate and we will do everything in our power to make sure that we are not diverted from the task of ensuring that small and medium enterprises grow for those who want to get out of informal into formal, because we do understand and appreciate that some would want to remain where they are and make some bit of profit so they can take care of their families.”
Zulu said since her department was established three years ago she had realised there was poor co-ordination in how government support was channelled to small and medium enterprises.
“My department must make sure there is proper co-ordination between the three spheres of government. We have realised that at all three levels [of government] there is some agency, or some government support that has to go to small and medium enterprises, but then we realise there is poor co-ordination between the three. Not only is there poor co-ordination, but there is also poor co-ordination between the financial development agencies,” said Zulu.
“In our case we have small and medium enterprises finance agency (Sefa); we also have Seda [small enterprises development agency]. When we look at that we find that in almost all the provinces there is some agency almost doing the same thing. It is our view that what we need to do is to be at the center of co-ordination of support for small and medium enterprises,” Zulu said.
Addressing the same event, ANC treasurer general Zweli Mkhize criticised South African big banks for “neglecting” small businesses despite the sector being lucrative and supporting many livelihoods.
“The major issue which relates to the small businesses relates to finance. We have been calling now, increasingly, for the creation of a black bank which must actually cater for the needs of the small businesses which are getting neglected by the big banks,” said Mkhize.
“We have had a discussion with the big banks. They don’t seem to be convinced on this argument; not that I expect them to be convinced. The point is that we need more avenues, more facilities that will assist the small businesses to be able to have access to finance,” he said.