The SME sector - the lifeblood of our economy - has been taking a significant strain in the last couple of years. File Image: IOL

DURBAN – The SME sector, "the lifeblood of our economy", has been taking a significant strain in the last couple of years.  

SONA comments from Karl Westvig CEO, Retail Capital

SME’s have been squeezed by rising costs and lower sales because of over-indebted consumers and a sluggish economy. We would welcome added investment in the SME sector and lower utility costs. The government needs to support SME’s through access to finance, a lower regulatory burden and lower electricity and fuel costs.  

In last year’s state of the nation address, President Ramaphosa announced an investment in the Chief Executive Initiative of launching a R1.5 billion Small Business Fund. We would like to see a significant increase to that value and also for the government to demonstrate how it's been applied. 

Last year the President also made a commitment that 30 percent of procurement will go to the SME sector and township operators and would like to hear an update on how this is proceeding.

With the economy only growing at 1 percent there needs to be a significant investment in the SME sector and this can be done through an increase in access to funding which government can support and also to make sure there isn't additional cost creep through electricity increases and fuel price increases.

Retail Capital has helped over 6000 SME businesses with funding for expansion and investing in stock this year alone, having advanced almost R2 billion since 2011.  

This leads to business growth and more employment  - we estimate over 12 500 jobs have been created over 8 years through additional funding provided to SME’s by Retail Capital.

SONA comments from Enver Duminy, CEO, Cape Town Tourism

“Last year, the President rallied us behind his ‘Thuma Mina -Send Me’ cry. We listened and went out with a message of hope, inviting the world to visit us. We asked the travel trade, travel media and willing tourists to forget the negative brand image we had, the restrictive travel rules we created and then looked forward to welcoming them here. 

Tourism performance had been on the decline and forward projections don’t appear to give us any more comfort that things will improve.

The growth we seek must be inclusive and tourism has proven to be a sector that is the catalyst for accessible, transformative and inclusive opportunities for many South Africans. Inclusive economic growth requires continuity; what that entails for the hospitality sector includes following through with the clarity around barriers to entry, including the visa and unabridged birth certificate regulations.

We’ve noted that while this process could have been concluded years ago, there have been delays due to various changes of leadership in government departments, to the detriment of economic growth.

We’d like to see this commitment to easing access control become a reality, something that would translate to an immediate uptick in the tourism economy – when large enterprise hospitality organisations can sustain growth, the door opens for SMMEs to achieve a more sustainable, inclusive operating environment.”