SA needs entrepreneurs now more than ever, says restaurant-chain boss
CAPE TOWN - South Africa needed more entrepreneurs than ever before, Mozambik restaurant-chain group chief executive Manny Nichas said.
With sustained weakness in the economy, continued pressure on consumers and a growing numbers of job cuts, reliance on the usual notion of traditional employment amounted to nothing, he said.
“Small to medium enterprises are the absolute key to re-igniting growth in South Africa,” said Nichas, calling on government and the private sector to refocus their attention. “Lip service and slogans do not create opportunity and action speaks louder than policy.”
He added that the barrier to entry when it came to funding startups or working capital for growth remained high.
“I really hope that the upcoming budget turns its attention to driving the economy from the bottom up. While the attraction of foreign direct investment remains critical, equally if not more so the development of our home-economy requires major attention.”
The Mozambik brand started off with a single store in 2005 and has grown to 17 outlets, with plans to double this by 2023. In 2019, the group saw a 29% growth in revenue.
“In the process we have created 450 direct employment opportunities with a further catalytic impact of around 1000 jobs. This may seem insignificant in isolation, but imagine 10 000 entrepreneurs each creating 100 jobs in every city. Government, financial institutions and development agencies should get this notion in their crosshairs,” Nichas said.
South Africa no longer had the luxury of creating hurdles for entrepreneurs, he said, and neither should institutions - financial or otherwise - drag their feet when considering applications.
"For entrepreneurs time is money, and funding is the biggest challenge of them all. So, while many advertising slogans promise a helping hand, the truth is that sans skin in the game (own funding) an entrepreneur has a next to zero chance of funding a startup. Franchising could present itself as one of the solutions given existing support structures, proven business models and returns.”
Furthermore, he said, a solid business plan that supported a good idea was a very real contribution, had monetary value, and should be a key criterion for lending.
“While not all startups succeed, perhaps government should consider SMME guarantees to financial institutions. After all, imagine if the billions in guarantees for SAA alone was redirected and assisted in backing startups. Imagine the economic benefit we would have tasted by now,” he said.
- African News Agency (ANA)