"Small business should be a bigger priority at summits like WEF Africa"

31986587870 ff0a842880 zOpening of the World Economic Forum 2017. (Image source: U.S Embassy Bern/Eric Bridiers/Flickr)Small and medium businesses should be a bigger priority as political, business and other leaders of society from across Africa gather at events such the World Economic Forum (WEF), which took place in Durban last week, to shape global, regional and industry agendas

Anton van Heerden, Managing Director and Executive Vice-President, Africa & Middle East at Sage said: “Our recent research shows that 49 per cent of small businesses in South Africa don’t feel fairly represented in the country’s political decision making. Their limited inclusion at forums such as WEF Africa simply confirms that policymakers should allow more time to really understand and provide solutions addressing their concerns.

 “As owner-driven and managed enterprises, Small & Medium Businesses create wealth for families and communities as well as much-needed jobs for local people. In fact, small businesses create two thirds of all the jobs in most economies, and represent over 98 per cent of all businesses. I’m pleased that Lindiwe Zulu, Minister of Small Business Development, acknowledged the role of Small & Medium Businesses in addressing inequality and poverty in one of the few talks at WEF to focus on small business. It’s also good to see that the data affordability issues facing small business are being addressed.

 “We have raised our concern before that business builders are not a priority in forums like Davos, and we once again urge multilateral institutions, big business and policymakers to make space for them at the table. This is also why we launched the Forum for Business Builders recently; a platform that we hope will come to represent the voice of small business owners both locally and globally.”

Van Heerden says that the launch of the South Africa Internet for All project this week, in partnership between the Government of South Africa and WEF, is welcome. One of its aims will be to explore how Internet for All can better support the development of Small & Medium Businesses. “We’d love to see more initiatives like this, with more emphasis on listening to business builders to find out how policymakers can support their growth,” he says.

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