More than half (54%) of small and medium enterprise (SME) owners in South Africa did not take a holiday last year and 70% put in more time than the standard 40 hour-week to grow their businesses, according to new research by Sage.
The study reveals the extent of the personal sacrifice made by entrepreneurs the world over and in South Africa, as well as the contributions that they are making to grow their countries’ economies. Compared to statistics from other countries, South African entrepreneurs are making strong contributions towards job creation and supporting volunteer work among their employees.
Of the respondents, 32% said that they expect to hire more than five employees in the next two years. Ten percent said they’ll hire as many 20 employees in two years. This highlights just how important the small business sector will be in helping to reverse the current trend of job losses in South African industries such as mining and telecoms.
An impressive 80% of South African business owners make personal donations to charities and non-profit organisations, while 32% encourage their employees to volunteer. This shows how a prosperous SME helps to create and share wealth throughout the community.
Despite their efforts, however, most South African business owners say that they have never received financial or other support from the state. 96% of South African SMEs crave Government support in growing their businesses. They outlined the top five things they want to see from our Government, to help them thrive:
1. Control energy and utility costs
2. Reduce red tape
3. Simplify labour regulation
4. Reduce business rates and taxes
5. Bring stability to foreign exchange rates
Ivan Epstein, CEO of Sage AAMEA (Africa, Australia, Middle East and Asia) and the chairman of the Sage Foundation says: “SMEs are the engine of our economy. Their leaders are heroes, willing to make a great personal sacrifice and take significant risks in the name of growth and job creation. As a country we owe them a debt of gratitude.
“Against this backdrop, it is encouraging to hear the Ministry of Small Business call for the private and public sectors to work together to invest in and support small businesses and cooperatives to reduce the levels of poverty in South Africa. The right kind of support from government could change the trajectory of the local economy as a whole.”
He adds that one of the biggest barriers to the success of SMEs in South Africa is education. “It would be a wonderful, positive opportunity to work with government to help SMEs face challenges like regulatory compliance, access to finance, skills development and mentoring. Private / public collaborations in this area could make a big change – and it’s in everyone’s interest to make this happen.”
Global research findings can be accessed here.