Small biz to get new “home”

A national debate in the small business community has flared up following the announcement last month by African National Congress (ANC) secretary-general Gwede Mantashe that a small business ministry might be introduced after the elections.

Khusela Sangoni, ANC spokeswoman, says Mantashe does not want to comment on the matter at this stage because the proposal for the ministry is still being debated within the ruling party.

“We realise the importance of the small business sector and that there is a need to place more focus on this sector because they are the engine of growth of this economy, but at this stage it is an internal debate within the ANC,” says Sangoni. Matashe made the announcement at a recent South African Chamber of Commerce (Sacci) event.

Sacci chief executive Neren Rau, who was present at the event, says several challenges faced by small business owners were discussed with Mantashe which culminated in the announcement.

“We will support a ministry that will enable small businesses. If the sole purpose of the ministry is to develop and support small businesses we will welcome that.”

However, he says there is still a lot of uncertainty on the purpose of the ministry.

“We will not be excited if the ministry was just another regulatory institution that will add more red tape,” says Rau.

Should this ministry come into being, business associations Small Business Connect spoke to, say they would like to see issues affecting small businesses receive closer attention, including access to finance, a standard definition of small enterprises and a standard set of exemption criteria.

Mantashe’s announcement was welcomed by the Black Business Council (BBC) who have been campaigning for small businesses to have their own ministry.

Sandile Zungu, spokesperson for the BBC, applauds the announcement saying the ministry will provide small business owners with a “home”.

“We have no reason to believe that this will not happen. We are pleased that such a commitment has been made from the secretary general,” says Zungu.

He says small business owners will know exactly which door to go to.

“Previously they only had a voice, which was not always heard, but now there will be a standalone ministry for small businesses.

Ideally the person heading up this ministry should be someone with a passion and history in being an activist for small businesses,” says Zungu.

Matsi Modise, national executive director for the South African Black Entrepreneurs Forum agrees with Zungu.

“The minister does not necessarily need to have been an entrepreneur, but he or she should have a stronghold of people who have run a business or have been involved in business support organisations.

“There should be a voice for entrepreneurs so that we can engage with those in government who implement policies,” says Modise.

She says she remains wary that such a ministry would add to the red tape already burdening business owners.

Small Business Connect spoke to business owners on the possible creation of the ministry.

Rasheed Hargey, owner of sensor technology business Uzazi Technology, says that the ministry should have been set up years ago.

“I think it is absolutely excellent to have a dedicated ministry that will provide small business owners with enhanced support and I think that this will stimulate job creation,” says Hargey.

However, Yolisa Molefe, who owns Siyahluma Nathi Consultants, says until more details are released she is staying cautiously optimistic.

“I am not sure whether this is a good idea,” says Molefe.

  • What do you say? Should there be a Small Business Ministry? Go to to say your say.

ANC, Gwede Mantsashe, Khusela Sangoni, Matsi Modise, Neren Rau, , Rasheed Hargey, , Sandile Zungu, Yolisa Molefe

We welcome comments and point out that the views of those who comment are not necessarily our views at Small Business Connect, its publishers, sponsors, or the dti. We invite debate, but insist on civility. We will not post personal attacks, name calling or foul language. If you wish to report inappropriate comments for our moderator to review, please use the Flag as inappropriate function provided.

  • Jack Stroucken

    Small business requires all the support it can get. So depending on the responsibilities of the proposed new ministry it may benefit SMEs.However small business is but one link in the chain of business which ranges from SOEs, publicly listed companies, private companies (large and small), one man businesses and of course includes small business (yet to be defined, presumably). The potential difiiculties and pitfalls and resulting implementation delays of fragmenting the approach to “business” are therefore worrying.
    Different ministries would have differing agendas, priorities and timelines and could well lead to an uncoordinated and less effective approach to a national strategy for business. So whilst small business should be well supported, it may be better to have this sit under an existing umbrella body (such as the DTI) which would be better able to incorporate the interests of all levels of business into an effective strategy.

  • Entrepreneur

    As a small business owner I have to say that the removal of bureaucratic red tape that was promised by the Minister of Trade & Industry is taking forever. In the interim 5/7 small businesses don’t make it through their first year. There is zero co-ordination between many connected Government departments hindering SMME growth which is why SA has 19m unemployed people. So it’s not only finance that is a primary obstacle for SMME’s but also Government bureaucrats. Entrepreneurs are now more interested in exploring opportunities in other African countries with all their logistical headaches because those countries have business-friendly policies. How embarrassing Nigeria has now overtaken us and Mauritius has a higher literacy rate !!! C’mon Mr Davies …. listen to us and we’ll find your unemployed jobs not through protective tarrifs and other weak measures but through educating and skilling up our employees. The West is tired of giving to beggars and I’m tired of us playing the victim tag the whole time. We dig all those precious metals out of the ground but are not educated or skilled enough to process them ourselves but ship them oversees for others to create jobs from. Our policies are not working too well especially for SMME’s otherwise we wouldn’t have 19 million unemployed. Stop disheartening entrepreneurs or else they will take their skills elsewhere and you’ll have 25m unemployed workers. Also isn’t it about time we stopped trying to do business on the basis of politics and race. After 20 years of ANC power we are more racially divided than before based on the rhetoric I often hear. Who cares what colour the owner/s of SMME’s are if they provide employment opportunities. I’m also tired of this previously disadvantaged, currently disadvantaged … possibly might be in the future disadvantaged …. all loser talk which is laughed at by the West. If we revert to Communism then that loser talk is relevant but SA is a capitalist economy and capital moves to where it can get the best rate of return. I think our legislators need to wake up and hurry up … before we end up like Zim ,,, just saying.

Supported by the dti & published by BusinessOwner&Co. Use of information is at own risk. Neither the dti nor the publisher may be held liable for any loss or damage that may occur as a result thereof.