This is according to Lindiwe Zulu, South Africa’s minister of Small Business Development, speaking at the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI) annual convention.
She explained that given South Africa’s history of apartheid, which stifled the growth of black people and women, financial support becomes a critical factor in growing the SME space.
“Black people and women need funds to start-up their businesses and to empower themselves. It’s not their fault that the skills level is where it is today as entrepreneurship levels have been hindered by our history,” said Zulu.
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“South Africans must understand that the radical transformation of our economy is not government’s responsibility alone. The money that needs to be given to SMEs cannot come from government alone; we also need to use resources from corporates too.”
She added that the government was trying to set the country on the path of radical transformation to target the high levels of unemployment, inequality and poverty.
However, given the bleak domestic economic climate, government is unable to give the Department of Small Business Development sufficient resources to develop the country’s entire SME space, therefore the assistance of private sector members is critical.
“I have a ministry created at the worst of times from an economic point of view so we need to use the little that we have in the best way that we can,” she said.
“It’s high time for big businesses to look deeper at where they’re putting their money, and not just tick off their corporate social investment spending. Help us give SMEs the skills that are relevant for sustainability.”
Zulu believes that if South Africa’s issues aren’t addressed and the gap between the rich and poor keeps expanding, disaster will inevitably strike.