The role of government agencies in promoting SMME's in Limpopo : a critical assessment

Mbedzi, Khaukanani Percival (2011-03)

Thesis (MDF)--University of Stellenbosch, 2011.


In 2003, the then president of the Republic of South Africa, Mr Thabo Mbeki, alluded to the dual nature of the South African economy which, on the one hand, is well developed with sound macroeconomic management, while, on the other hand, it has characteristics of an underdeveloped Third World economy. The province of Limpopo is no exception to this anomalous economic phenomenon. It can be argued that, due to its preponderant rural character, the dual economy phenomenon is more pronounced in Limpopo than in other parts of the country. According to the government’s Integrated Strategy on the Promotion of Entrepreneurship and Small Enterprises, “the promotion of entrepreneurship and small businesses remains an important priority of the government of South Africa” (Department of Trade and Industry, 2005: 3). In line with this strategy, the government has committed itself to ensuring that small businesses increase their contribution to economic growth and job creation. To realise this goal, the government has taken measures to ensure that small business development becomes a key policy focus. In South Africa, the importance of developing small, medium and micro-enterprises (SMMEs) becomes even more critical for the achievement of social stability by creating jobs to solve the high unemployment rate. Apart from their contribution to job creation and economic growth, SMMEs can play a significant role in the economy of the country by introducing new innovative products and services, thereby improving the quality of life of the people. The challenge facing the province of Limpopo and indeed South Africa as a whole is how to effectively mobilise small enterprise support agencies to help in developing sustainable SMMEs that can contribute meaningfully to economic growth and development. The provincial government looks upon the support agencies to implement its SMME support strategy. This study provides a critical review of all the relevant institutions, agencies and programmes – operational at national, provincial, district and local level – which try to address support needs of small, medium and micro-enterprises. Many of these efforts are effective and reach significant numbers of small enterprises, yet many of the initiatives fail or remain ineffective. In many areas local staff is too limited to implement programmes or just to effectively publicise available support programmes. In a brief comparative section, we try to show that South Africa’s problems with inadequate SMMEsupport are far from unique. We are part of worldwide concern about practical steps to expand, strengthen and streamline SMME-support – and Limpopo is part of that challenge.

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