Thought Leadership

Driving Growth Through Innovation

December 2022

"All the money in the world cannot solve problems unless we work together and, if we work together, there is no problem in the world that can stop us, as we seek to develop people to their highest and best potential," Mr Ewing Kauffman.

South Africa is buzzing with originality and creativity. Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) have become the backbone of our economy by virtue of their innovation. They are major drivers of growth and employment, particularly for the youth. To build a better future, they use their ability to design and incubate innovative technologies and business models. These small businesses have a great deal of potential to grow into prosperous corporations in the future, which will boost the development and well-being of the African continent.

The presence of a flexible and enabling environment in which the entrepreneurial ecosystem promotes growth and sustainability is essential, for entrepreneurs to contribute to economic growth and societal development. The South African entrepreneurial ecosystem continues to face numerous challenges and obstacles. In a stagnant economy, SMEs are battling barriers to market access as well as a lack of demand for their goods and services. Given the challenges these small businesses face, improving the SME ecosystem is an essential intervention to propel SME growth. Collaboration amongst institutions, role players, and initiatives is vital in creating the conditions for entrepreneurial success.

When it comes to the future of South Africa's struggling economy, SMEs have become an essential component and we rely heavily on the successes of entrepreneurs to drive innovation and market competition. They adopt a positive outlook on government and private sector goals to turn the economy around. Workers from economically marginalized groups who have fewer opportunities for employment, are more likely to be hired by SMEs. These job opportunities are helping to democratize the labour market while also driving inclusive economic growth. Practices that are in line with the national entrepreneurship development agenda, derived from the National Development Goals (NDGs) for a more inclusive economy.

The work ecosystem is constantly changing, as are the concepts of business models, which business owners and employees must keep up with. To put South Africa on the map of economic stability, both the private and public sectors will need to define and redesign procurement policies to include SMEs, as well as develop and use aggregators to source markets. Finally, Enterprise Supplier Development (ESD) policies and their models must be re-evaluated by big corporates, to better support SMEs in their growth and development to achieve economic sustainability.

The annual Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) held in November, was once again a resounding success. It honours global entrepreneurs who raise living standards and have a positive impact on global economic growth. The theme of the 15th annual GEW was inclusive entrepreneurship and how to achieve sustainability through education, inclusion, policies, and ecosystems.

Testimony to the vision of GEW for entrepreneurs, the Breadbox Box Bakery and Studio (a beneficiary of Barloworld Siyakhula) received the Talk Radio 702 Small Business Award for 2022. This prestigious award recognizes small and medium businesses that excel at satisfying customers while turning a profit. It honours all South African entrepreneurs who go above and beyond their societal responsibilities to impact and develop their communities. CEO of The Bread Box Bakery and Studio, Matlhogonolo Ledwaba, expressed her appreciation for being granted the privilege to participate in the Barloworld Siyakhula ESD Programme. She went on to say that she was given the fundamental tools to grow and achieve excellence because Siyakhula's Managing Director Prudence Gololo, believed in her vision. Matlhogonolo's Small Business Award is well-deserved recognition for her dedication and commitment to business growth and community development.

According to Philip Gaskin, Vice President of Entrepreneurship at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation,"Inclusive prosperity is the current trend and the way forward. Recognizing that the economy is not a zero-sum game, providing SMEs with the tools they need to succeed does not imply that others must fall or become stationary. As they grow, so will their impact, which will generate positive ripple effects. These reverberations increase product and service demand, which benefits businesses and their workforces thus resulting in a larger tax base for communities, increased funding for services and amenities, and a higher standard of charitable giving." The role of SMEs in society cannot be overemphasised and encouraged even more, as captured by Mr Gaskin.

Back to previous page