Minister Jeff Radebe. The minister, addressing the Nafcoc conference on Wednesday, called on government and business to focus on growing small businesses in order to strengthen the country's economy. File picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)

Durban - Energy Affairs Minister Jeff Radebe has called on government and business to focus on growing small businesses in order to strengthen the country's economy.

He said even school-going young people should be groomed to become entrepreneurs as a way to prepare them to boost the country’s economy.

Radebe was addressing National African Federated Chamber of Commerce and Industry's (Nafcoc) 54th National Conference at the Durban ICC on Wednesday night.

He said in many European countries' Small, Medium and Micro-sized Enterprises (SMMEs) contribute 90% to the economy.

“Their SMMEs accounting for 60% to 70% of the working population and contributing as much as 60% of GDPs.

“Globally SMMEs account for a lion’s share of the business enterprises in most economies around the world, and are also considered to be an engine of new growth and innovation,” he said.

He said the prosperity of the world community largely depends on small businesses for economic success.

“In the United States of America (USA) there are about 28 million small businesses, which employ 55% of workforce and account 54% of transaction throughout the year.

“In Germany school children as young as 15 years old spend up to three weeks on production lines during their summer vacations to get a taste of work,” he said.

He called upon Nafcoc members to engage in creating new businesses that are lined with the fourth industrial revolution.

He said South African development institutions should learn from German’s KFW Development Bank on how to assist SMMEs to prosper.

He said South Africa was sitting with 5.6 million SMMEs but about 55% of the country’s employment comes from big businesses and government.

Outgoing Nafcoc president Lawrence Mavundla had learn how better to grow SMMEs Indonesia, which had dropped its unemployment rate  to below 10% .

“Small business are a catalyst for job creation, and small business is the one that can solve our country’s problems.

“We rely on Indonesia to teach us more because South Africa can be a better country if we can have the support of small businesses,” said Mavundla.

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