Let a thousand SMMEs bloom

Opportunity magazine is a niche business-to-business publication that explores various investment opportunities within Southern Africa’s economic sectors. In this issue, one of the focus areas include SMMEs and entrepreneurship in South Africa.

Many people are not suited to being business owners. But for people who are willing to put up with long hours, lots of stress and tiresome paperwork, there are great potential rewards. The idea that entrepreneurship can fix South Africa’s unemployment problem, as some politicians and commentators have been suggesting, is unrealistic but small businesses can certainly get more people into work and improve lives.

Entrepreneurship is a new subject at some TVET colleges and a productive area for SMMEs is in the supply chains of big companies. The support of a corporate, a mining or a retail company can take many forms: low-interest loans, equipment, advice, transport, access to land or markets and offtake agreements.

South Africa also has several active incubators, helping businesses survive and thrive. One such entity is the Tholoana Enterprise Programme, which operates outside of the major supply chains and in rural areas. Backed by the SAB Foundation, Tholoana mentors owners, teaches business skills and provides access to resources. Running a business is hard work, but there is help out there for entrepreneurs who want to learn the ropes.

In this issue of Opportunity 

Minerals Council South Africa CEO Mzila Mthenjane outlines his vision for how mining can transform South Africa. The sector will play a key role in the national and global transition to new energy.

SMMEs are the focus of Nico Jacobs’ work as CEO of the South African Future Trust. An interview with Nico covers the transition this fund is making from being dedicated to helping businesses meet their payrolls during the Covid pandemic to having a broader remit, including consulting with SMME owners and putting them in touch with advisors. Nico also reflects on the inaugural South African Future Trust Summit.

A team of legal experts from Webber Wentzel present an argument for a positive approach to the growing centrality of environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues in mining. Sustainability in mining is also the subject of Rudie Opperman’s article, but his focus is technology. Opperman is well placed to discuss how mining can better utilise many new technologies to reduce environmental impact.

Energy has been an important area of focus for all businesses in recent times, and retail is no exception. Solly Engelbrecht, National Logistics Executive at The SPAR Group, applies his mind to the future of distribution in the retail sector in an energy-scarce world. Localisation is among the key approaches that should be adopted to ensure a reliable power supply. Having worked on the use of mobile apps with the insurance industry, Yaron Assabi, the founder of the Digital Solutions Group (DSG), has penetrating insights into how a frictionless commerce experience can improve customer retention.

Many South Africans will be interested and relieved to read that loadshedding can be beaten. Vodacom Group Chief Technology Officer, Dejan Kastelic, explains how “virtual wheeling” has been trialled and tested by his company, working with Eskom.

In an article about the impact of paper on forests, the Paper Manufacturers Association of South Africa (PAMSA) analyses the results of an international survey into environmental perceptions. Cymbeline Harilal, Instructional Designer at The Independent Institute of Education, contributes an article on how universities should be equipping students with the relevant skills for the modern workplace. Another article focusses on the potential South Africa’s Marine Protected Areas hold for the tourism sector.

John Young, Editor
Opportunity magazine

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Opportunity magazine is a niche business-to-business publication that explores various investment opportunities within Southern Africa’s economic sectors. The publication is endorsed by the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI).