14 March 2017

South Africa: Minister Lindiwe Zulu - Address At Plenary Following Global SME Ministerial Meeting

press release

Programme Director,

Ministers and Deputy Ministers present here,

The Chairperson and members of the Portfolio Committee on Small Business Development,

Delegates,

Ladies and gentlemen

Yesterday, we met as Ministers responsible for small business development from different parts of the world at the Global SME Ministerial and reflected on challenges confronting entrepreneurs in our countries as well as opportunities available.

The Global SME Ministerial is one of the key highlights of the Global Entrepreneurship Congress that is currently underway. South Africa and the United States have served as co-hosts to the ministerial.

Indeed, hosting the Global Entrepreneurship Congress in South Africa will help sustain the momentum of an entrepreneurial revolution which President Jacob Zuma set in motion when he established the Department of Small Business Development! I am confident that GEC 2017 will further thrust entrepreneurship and the agenda small business development firmly on the national agenda and the collective consciousness of our nations.

We are all concerned that small businesses have an exceedingly high failure rate, and in our country, the majority of the casualties are black and women-owned businesses. Statistics tell us that small businesses have limited chances of surviving their first few years. We are confident that GEC 2017 will assist us to find appropriate and sustainable answers to some of these questions and to help to reverse this trend through insightful research and analysis.

Unsurprisingly, we confront the same problems but the interventions differ and to this effect we learnt a lot from each other as to how to respond given the varying circumstances. Of essence is that all African economies are dominated by informal businesses and we have realised the immediate challenge is to introduce programmes that create growth and sustainability in the sector.

This interaction is proving critical and we hope to have an African summit on small business in the not so distant future. Yesterday's discussions assisted us, as Ministers, to refine and strengthen government policies that seek to empower small businesses to grow and thrive. As South Africa, we have always been receptive to new ideas and proposals that can contribute to improved entrepreneurial activity in the country. We remain grateful to my counterparts who generously shared their experiences and policy perspectives.

We discussed policy experiences to promote entrepreneurship and to accelerate the pace of small businesses development and growth. Ministers shared national entrepreneurship strategies and reflected on emerging policy interventions and programme ideas which sought to promote job creation and economic growth.

As representatives of governments we agreed that it was important to govern with small businesses in mind. Among other things, this means appreciating the role of small businesses in economic development and community upliftment. Part of what we must continue doing is to create an enabling environment for the establishment and sustainability of small businesses.

We recognise that the role of entrepreneurs in society are far more important than being creators of employment. We are of a view that entrepreneurs, as people who have the capacity to find solutions, can assist governments to find creative solutions to other challenges confronting society.

GEC 2017 provided a platform for entrepreneurs across the globe to learn and gain new innovative ideas that would help grow small businesses and ignite an entrepreneurial culture in South Africa. It provides an opportunity to learn first-hand how successful entrepreneurs and their governments have collaborated in creating sustainable businesses able to compete in the global arena.

A platform for South African entrepreneurs to learn and gain new innovative ideas that will help grow small business and ignite an entrepreneurial culture in South Africa.

It provides an opportunity to learn first-hand how successful entrepreneurs and their governments have collaborated in creating sustainable businesses able to compete in the global arena.

More importantly, as Ministers, we posed the question to ourselves: After GEC, what? We have made a commitment to ensure that what emerges out of this gathering should have a practical impact on ordinary entrepreneurs.

The GEC must be a platform that would open doors for our youth, ignite entrepreneurship and put our youth in the global arena. We intend to take forward this process by hosting GEC Africa.

I thank you

Issued by: Department of Small Business Development

South Africa

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