The recent introduction of a Ministry of Small Business Development, to be pioneered by newly-appointed Minister Lindiwe Zulu, is a momentous move by the government.
Many will echo that this is perhaps a step in the right direction.
Many others will question its relevance, its ability to address the challenges that the small business sector has had for the past 20 years, and also question Zulu’s ability and credentials to steer such a ministry.
The mere fact that it is not called the Ministry of Business, but called the Ministry of Small Business Development, deems this endeavour quite specific and prescriptive.
To have an ounce of the ability to achieve the ambitious targets of the National Development Plan (NDP) to create 11 million jobs by 2030, the government surely need these interventions.
To ensure sustained success, the government needs to apply a similar diagnostic approach, as it did with the NDP.
It needs to find the root of why small businesses have not fuelled the economy to the degree its counterparts globally have. China, Malaysia, Brazil are prime examples.
Black entrepreneurs and small business owners need to be developed beyond just being preferential procurement beneficiaries, but to be key contributors of this economy.
This ministry needs to seamlessly synchronise all the small business development ecosystem (corporates, organisations, public sector and policy makers). No doubt such a ministry has the potential to help eradicate beasts called unemployment, inequality and poverty in communities many of us come from. Virtuous leadership, accountability and integration of what we already have to drive what we really need are a few things Zulu might need to consider so as to leave a legacy that supports small enterprises so that they can create 11 million jobs and reduced the unemployment that haunts us daily.
- Matsi Modise is the national executive director of the South African Black Entrepreneurs Forum.