Picture: Mike Hutchings/Reuters
JOHANNESBURG - The Small Business Institute (SBI) on Monday welcomed President Cyril Ramaphosa's commitments to examine the role government has played in holding back South Africa's small and medium enterprises (SMEs), but called for the collapse of the Department of Small Business Development.

"After four years since the establishment of the Department of Small Business Development, with a cumulative budget in the region of R5.2 billion and a consistent year-on-year underachievement of its annual targets, there is still no coordinated effort – or evidence-based strategy – to drive government’s efforts to support this vital segment of our business community," the SBI said.

"We therefore recommend that the Ministry of Small Business be collapsed into a small and effective advocacy office, positioned within the Office of the Presidency to heighten its role as champion of the small business community.  Failing that, we would suggest it be housed in the Treasury."

The SBI said that it would soon be launching the first-ever baseline study to be conducted on small, medium and micro businesses in South Africa in a bid to respond to the call to action towards growing small business, growing employment and growing the economy.

In his maiden State-of-the-Nation Address, Ramaphosa said that government would work with social partners to build a small business support ecosystem and continue to invest in small business incubation, including finalising a small business and innovation fund and reducing the regulatory barriers.

He said that the establishment through the CEOs Initiative of a small business fund – which currently stands at R1.5 billion – was an outstanding example of the role that the private sector can play.

Ramaphosa also said that government would begin begin rooting out corruption, especially in State-owned enterprises, and review the structure and size of government departments.

 African News Agency/ANA