Small Business Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu

Johannesburg - Small Business Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu on Monday urged companies to help the government in supporting and developing small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

Speaking at a business forum on the sidelines of the African National Congress's conference, Zulu said backing for SMEs should not just come from government and state-owned enterprises.

"In the three and a half years since I have been in office, I have realized that there is a lot of talk about supporting small and medium enterprises. But somewhere along the line it falls short of understanding the real challenges that are faced by SMEs, that these small enterprises have to compete with big companies who have deeper pockets and have been operating for a very long time," Zulu said.

"If only we could use the same energy that we had when we were fighting apartheid to turn things around for small and medium enterprises, and if only South Africans could realize that industrialization, beneficiation and everything that comes through it is about creating jobs and making sure that jobs remain here, it might look like something small but it would make a big difference."

Zulu said small businesses should also be ready to take advantage of support from the government, which was putting the necessary legislation in place and had declared that 30 percent of its goods and services procurement would be given to SMEs.

"Yes, there is a political will to ensure that we support SME, but a political will on its own, not being supported by real activities, by real financial and non-financial support, by ensuring that we create that conducive environment for SMEs, will almost be meaningless," Zulu said.

Zulu said there would be an announcement next year about support for SMEs and entrepreneurs from the European Union.

African News Agency/ANA