President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation Address for 2017 has wisely put Small & Medium Businesses at the centre of the country's economic growth strategy for the next few years. This is to be welcomed since it is only by unlocking the entrepreneurial energy of the country's business builders that South Africa can reach its full potential, says Anton van Heerden, managing director and executive vice-president, Africa & Middle East at Sage.
"A prosperous economy is built on top of a successful small business sector," he adds. "Small business puts wealth in the hands of the entrepreneurs and their community, and it's often more labour-intensive than capital-intensive large enterprises. Encouraging more South Africans to start businesses is the best way to reduce poverty and inequality."
Van Heerden adds that President Zuma's focus on youth entrepreneurs is to be saluted in a country where unemployment is so high among young people. "It is encouraging that government plans to use its buying power to empower small businesses," he says.
"President Zuma is correct to note that there are many opportunities we have to grow small businesses specifically in areas as diverse as tourism, beneficiation and agriculture. It is also heartening to hear that government expects the economy to grow 1.3% this year, up from around 0.5% in 2016. We believe that South Africa has many great opportunities for small businesses and that investing in small business is a great opportunity for government."