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An innovative approach to creating a dynamic ecosystem for SMMEs to thrive requires confrontation by multistakeholders with the barriers to social mobility for the entrepreneur. Having set out a framework for inclusive development in urban areas, this chapter delves into the challenges facing stakeholders in the SMME context.
As far back as 1911, Joseph Schumpeter described entrepreneurship as ‘revolutionary’, a catalyst for change in an economic system characterised by pure competition.1 In this system of pure competition, he asserts that the ‘circular flow of economic life’ is in equilibrium – it is a normal state where capitalism distributes the factors of production routinely. In later writings, he expounds on the revolutionary nature of the entrepreneur, adding that economic development is achieved through creating and destroying existing structures.2
Pure competition: broad range of competitors who are selling the same products
This ‘creative destruction’, where new combinations in production are devised, is what leads to economic development and where credit must be given to the entrepreneur.3 What we can take from this theory is that SMMEs play a critical role in the well-being of the economy when they are able to develop ‘new combinations in production’, and creatively do away with the old and bring in the new.
The thinking on entrepreneurship in economic books of yesteryear is not archaic by today’s standards; we are simply in a new age of entrepreneurship. Whether you are referring to SMMEs, small business or entrepreneurship, this theme has become a persistent global buzzword that cannot be overlooked. And the presence of entrepreneurship and recent interest is a largely urbanised phenomenon even though government is moving towards rewarding supporting nonurban structures. This is because infrastructural support is concentrated in urban areas, resulting in entrepreneurs migrating to the metros, where researchers also tend to focus. The informality and distance of rural area entrepreneurship also creates a barrier to inclusion as additional resources are expected to be availed, whereas urban concentration is perceived to create greater ease of engagement.
Some may argue that this rise in interest in entrepreneurship is due to the failings of big business and the growth of social citizenship. This has shifted the lens towards using small businesses to re-establish trust in commerce following the fall and subsequent revitalisation of global economies. Many may look to this sector as the solution to worrying unemployment levels, poverty and inequality. This is the hypothesis put forward by Herbert and Link, whose studies saw the emergence of entrepreneurship as a liberator when the US experienced low growth, resulting in a call for the revival of entrepreneurship. The relative ease of establishing a small business has seen these enterprises mushroom everywhere. That they sometimes do little more than survive, or don’t survive at all, leads to questions about the ecosystem that sustains or threatens them.
Later in this chapter, we show the extent to which the many stakeholders in the entrepreneurship community can make a progressive impact. We also present two case studies, in the automotive and transport sector. The first case study on transportation called 'flx - mobility as a service' is in the previous article. The second case study on the automotive sector follows later on in this article. These give different perspectives on the position of transformative entrepreneurship, and how it’s geared to improve social mobility for the entrepreneur and change cultural norms for socio-economic wellbeing. We reframe what research usually focuses on in a more accessible way, and present innovative approaches to enabling the ecosystem.
The relative ease of establishing a small business has seen these enterprises mushroom everywhere. That they sometimes do little more than survive, or don’t survive at all, leads to questions about the ecosystem that sustains or threatens them.
The word ‘entrepreneurship’ is the Latin entre, which means ‘between’, and prendre, meaning ‘to take’.4 Joining the words gives us the French verb entreprendre, ‘to undertake’.5 Some definitions suggest that ‘entrepreneur’ comes from the Sanskrit Antha Prerna, which means ‘self-motivated’.6
Entrepreneurs have existed throughout history, with references to entrepreneurship dating to the 17th century, and early economic theorist Richard Cantillon credited with acknowledging the critical role of entrepreneurship in the economy.7 He posited that, at various times in their natural environments, people spotted an opportunity or prospect and set up a process to exploit it. They gathered and activated resources and traded or manufactured something for profit.
Throughout this chapter we use the words ‘entrepreneurship’ and ‘small business’ interchangeably but we are not suggesting they are synonymous. Rather, we borrow from their constructs as they are closely related.8 Small businesses are often started and rooted in entrepreneurship. Medium businesses are the logical next phase of growth for a small business, linking to the entrepreneurial ambition of growth. We recognise, and distinguish between, different types of small businesses and entrepreneurship later on when we show that not all small businesses are entrepreneurial; many are started with limited growth ambitions. Other start-ups, such as micro enterprises, maintain their limited scope. Entrepreneurship, however, is defined by opportunity and innovation rather than employment numbers. We can’t always decouple them from each other. Instead, we aim to understand their nuances and note any differences when necessary.
We need to consider the role small, medium and micro-sized enterprises (SMMEs) play in the financial services sector, and how they impact on the social mobility of people and financial well-being of an economy that represents all stakeholders that should benefit from it. New research on the connections between these two fields is emerging, searching for answers to the questions, ‘What can entrepreneurship researchers learn from wellbeing scholars?’ and ‘What can well-being scholars learn from entrepreneurship literature?’ Linked to that, another question considered in most national strategies is the extent to which public policy and corporate activity should promote entrepreneurial activity to increase social mobility and help marginalised communities advance to create a more inclusive ecosystem.
Writers and researchers don’t all agree on the meaning, or a definition, of entrepreneurship.9 Table 2.2.1 gives an overview of the genres in this subject, and how they overlap and connect. These make up the inputs to the subject of entrepreneurship.10
We need to consider the role small, medium and micro-sized enterprises (SMMEs) play in the financial services sector, and how they impact on the social mobility of people and financial well-being of an economy that represents all stakeholders that should benefit from it.
According to Shir, the pay-off structure that determines the well-being of an entrepreneur is on the personality and subjective characteristics of the individual rather than an association to external economic well-being.11 Interestingly, his studies reveal that entrepreneur resilience is often not a result of simply trying to maximise profits but rather comes from ‘psychic income’. Entrepreneurship is therefore closely associated with well-being, which is broadly defined as an important individualistic phenomenon and an important indication of socio-economic progress or social mobility.
Psychic income: the pleasure and satisfaction that someone gets from doing a job, as opposed to the money they earn for doing it
The entrepreneurship hype has been triggered by a number of discourses driven by national policy. In a climate of Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) legislation, sprouting innovation and incubation hubs, multiple local and global conferences, and financing propositions, it seems natural for this interest to have reached these proportions.
The National Development Plan (NDP) has the aspirational goal of 11 million jobs coming from the SMME sector by 2030.12
The Endeavor jobs calculator considers the different factors that are essential for job creation.13 To meet the NDP target of 11 million jobs, the calculator projects that South Africa needs over 49 000 SMMEs growing at a rate of 20% a year.14 University of Stellenbosch economics professor Neil Rankin is quoted as saying that, if the last few years are anything to go by, with many small businesses closing down, this 2030 goal is grossly ambitious and overestimated, especially when small businesses are conversely shedding the most jobs.15 Statistics South Africa is also unable to confirm that its Labour Survey accurately reflects the extent of small business job creation, as the data collection process does not filter the reporting for duplications.16 If the statistics continue to confirm this narrative, this goal definitely seems to be beyond reach. Is the national strategy flawed, or is there something systemic that is creating barriers which may not be insurmountable? This warrants a closer look.
A reform happens when you change the policy of the government, a revolution happens when you change the mind-set of a country. (Dan Senor)
What does it take for a country to be referred to as a ‘start-up nation’ whose dominance in entrepreneurship is unrivalled? In their book Start-up Nation, Dan Senor and Saul Singer write that Israel has the world’s highest concentration of start-ups per capita as well as the highest subsequent significant listings on the NASDAQ (a US stock exchange).17 The book observes from the perspectives of the authors that Israel’s national culture of entrepreneurship has been shaped by: firstly the adversities the country has faced; its collective communities or kibbutzim as catalysts for collective innovation and hard work; and lastly, by modelling and instilling resilience, or chutzpah, from an early age. It seems then that grassroots policies and regulations must support an entrepreneurial culture to sustain start-up businesses. However, culture cannot emerge and thrive only through a policy event. We can deduce that entrepreneurialism requires gradual introduction and continuity in the way of doing things for an entrepreneurial culture to change. National strategies can begin to create the right environment for encouraging entrepreneurial activity that leads to the outcomes envisaged for growth.18
We cannot wait for time to pass to tell whether entrepreneurial activity will contribute to growth. If entrepreneurship is the answer, how does the government begin to structurally change and support this view through policies, systems, institutions and financing strategies? A more comprehensive and holistic review of the existing ecosystem is required. Small businesses do not exist in a vacuum, nor is a government framework enough (it is necessary, though). Big business is a key role player in the ecosystem. It is both a source of inputs and a market, in some cases, for small business. Without appetite from government, no policy will ensure that we ‘move the needle’. Looking to SMMEs to achieve the NDP’s lofty, yet necessary, goal may seem like petty idealism if a more holistic rethink is not considered.
Rather than writing off this goal as unattainable, a closer look at the sector may reveal what is working and what is not, and what can inform the national strategy to realise this all-important contribution to the well-being of our society and economy. Having the political intent to support small businesses, as evidenced in establishing a dedicated ministry, has not been as successful as many envisaged it to be. If you survey the corporate landscape, you will find that South Africa is the birthplace and home to some of the biggest global businesses. We thus have no doubt that the small business sector has potential for significant growth, provided the ecosystem is conducive to sustainable development.
The National Small Business Act (No. 102 of 1996) was introduced to provide an enabling environment for SMMEs and establish several institutions to provide financial and other support to entrepreneurs.19 The advent of Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) was also meant to show government leadership in driving entrepreneurship and small business development, with the support of corporates, for the benefit of all – in line with globally adopted shared-value principles.20
Shared value: policies and operating practices that enhance the competitiveness of a company while simultaneously advancing the economic and social conditions in the communities in which it operates21
This piece of legislation was to drive the way government engaged in its procurement practices, as set out in the Public Finance Management Act. Strategic engagement with non-governmental institutions, all-sized corporates and individuals incentivise organisations to secure government business within the ambit of public sector procurement reform by demonstrating their contribution to transformation.
To lend support to the Department of Trade and Industry’s (the dti’s) legislative strategy for transformation and demonstrate how seriously government viewed entrepreneurship, the Department of Small Business Development (DSBD) was established in 2014. If political reform was to be foundational, then national policy took the right turn.
More than 80% of businesses in South Africa now hold a valid BEE certificate.22 Despite the good intent behind these government-led initiatives, many beneficiaries of these measures are seeing how they, and their businesses, have become mere points on a compliance scorecard. The policy has become the policing of big business, small business and verification agencies, which, in some instances, have become adept at finding ways around the system. Even though fronting (criminal misrepresentation, as defined by the BEE Commissioner) has not been prosecuted, government plans to curb the practice by publishing the names of those it has investigated since 2017.23 Naming and shaming may not occur, though, as perpetrators are given an opportunity to rectify the situation. It is sad to see the unintended consequences of these SMME-supporting structures, which, rather than generating a marked increase in small businesses and an economic contribution (noted earlier in this chapter), have resulted in a mass of entrepreneurs who speak of systemic biases that hinder them or may push them to resort to desperate measures of doing business at all costs.24
Industrialisation is another local catchphrase, referring to the inclusive economic growth programme driven by government using the combined policies of BEE, the NDP and the Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP). The Black Industrialists Scheme (BIS) seeks to increase market participation beyond small business development, reduce poverty levels and inequities, and curb unemployment.25 The ambition of the BIS programme is to create big business, not to sustain small business (this is in addition to the mandate of other government programmes which are supported by the DSBD, whose budget for 2018/2019 is R1.48 billion).26
According to a Business Day report, the dti has provided financial support to 102 black industrialists. Under the programme:27
These allowances went to businesses in various industries: plastic and pharmaceuticals (R567 million), agro-processing (R316 million) and the metal industry (R279 million). Among the recipients is Microfinish Automotive in KwaZulu-Natal, which last year received R13.5 million28 (see the case study on the transformation of black suppliers within the automotive component industry later on in his article called: Non-moving parts).
Another success story is agribusiness Maneli Foods, which was founded from start-up capital received from the Awethu Project. It has received R12.5 million from the Black Industrialists Scheme, a further R26.6 million from the Industrial Development Corporation, and the owners have put in R8 million of their own capital.29
A further 100 industrialists are to be funded, with the dti aiming to shift state-owned companies’ procurement spend by issuing targets. The traditional business landscape is about to change, but not for the majority of small businesses that are trying to get any form of access to sustain their businesses.30
A common access myth is that all small businesses want to grow, which is why they seek support. Ascertaining what type of support is needed, and essential, is where they need clarity. Some small businesses are only looking for solutions to sustainability. This should be clearly articulated in the business intent so that the right support and resources are provided. Others want access to funding and financing, which also needs to be clearly stated to determine the solution to be put forward. Interventions such as these will go a long way towards enhancing our understanding of what small businesses require at various stages in the growth and maturity trajectory and their potential to contribute to economic development and job creation. Any programme implementer must be aware of these distinctions and cater differently for both linear and J-curve entrepreneurs, or small business ambitions.
The J-curve effect is a curve that falls then rises steeply to a point higher than the starting point. It is notably found in economic policy or action. According to Howard Love, in his book The Start-Up J Curve, a J-curve entrepreneur goes through six steps of success.31 These are shown in Figure 2.2.1.
This entrepreneur is focused on sustainability to retirement, while the J-curve entrepreneur is interested in scalability. These different characteristics must be considered, as many programmes miss the mark because of their generalist approach to SMME development.
Access to finance and funding: Limited or prohibitive access to funding and financing is the one area most businesses say is their greatest challenge. Requirements vary from: a specified period of existence, a financial track record and providing performance indicators to giving the credentials of the entrepreneur. It appears that many businesses don’t even bother applying because some of these requirements sought by funders and financiers are unattainable or premature to have accomplished (especially for start-ups).
Access to development: The spirit of entrepreneurship is often about serendipity; the execution is not. Entrepreneurship is also not only a mindset but a skill set. The main aim of business incubation initiatives is to develop entrepreneurs who can run successful, sustainable businesses.34 These incubators provide various access opportunities, including business tools, business education and business networks that entrepreneurs wouldn’t ordinarily be able to access or afford.35
Access to markets: For a business to progress from being a start-up it needs to have access to clients. This is a key challenge when the financing and sustainability of the business are at risk and are dependent on doing business to stay in business. An example on how small business can access clients is when corporates comply with BEE legislation to have targeted spend that favours small business.36 Unfortunately, a proportionately small component of procurement spend is channelled towards big business, on most BEE scorecards. This is especially the case when the total measured procurement spend allows for certain exclusions that reduce the ratio to be directed towards small business.37
Another barrier to accessing markets is small business development programmes that are not strategic but are designed to tick the right boxes for compliance. Small businesses attend these programmes but never get that elusive request for proposal, or they remain on the client database, landing small or no contracts. The result is that they retain their small stature or are eventually flushed out of the system.
An example on how small business can access clients is when corporates comply with BEE legislation to have targeted spend that favours small business. Unfortunately, a proportionately small component of procurement spend is channelled towards big business, on most BEE scorecards.
The Omidyar Network’s study on the access ecosystem reveals the challenges faced as a sub-Saharan region (see Figure 2.2.2).38 If small business is to contribute to employment and growth, and achieve long-term impact, it must evolve from being mostly informal to becoming entrenched and supported in the economy.39 The survey showed that a culture of entrepreneurship is growing in sub-Saharan Africa, with indicators for entrepreneurial motivations on par with or higher than the global average.
According to the theory of market structures, only a small fraction of businesses are oligopolies, duopolies or monopolies, despite their dominance in terms of assets, employment and turnover.
Oligopoly: a market dominated by a small number of large suppliers
Duopoly: a market with only two suppliers
Monopoly: a market with only one supplier
In many industries, companies are either monopolistically competitive or operate in conditions which approximate perfect competition. These types of markets have very low barriers to entry, so many companies exist and each has a low market share. The size of each business is therefore likely to be ‘small’ relative to the total market size.
Schumpeter argued that monopolies would only be temporary and therefore we shouldn’t be too concerned about their power. His analysis suggested that entrepreneurs encouraged innovation, even by monopolies, which is evident decades later as various analyses and empirical results confirm.41 But do today’s markets, showing the persistence of high monopoly profits, threaten the growth potential and market share access of entrepreneurs? A glance at a global industry is used here to assess how true this holds.
It’s all about the run, it’s all about the action. We all know what needs to be done, we all know what we need to do and we all have reasons why not to, but what matters eventually – run! Run, irrespective of the obstacles you face on the entrepreneurial journey; they are mere hurdles to jump over.
The birth of the modern running shoe can be traced to Goodyear affixing rubber soles to canvas shoes in 1892 (tyre companies were the first manufacturers of sneakers, or as we know them here in South Africa, takkies).42 In 1964 Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight founded a company that manufactured running shoes, launching the Nike brand in 1972 with the intent to improve athletic performance.43 Using new technologies, Nike continually evolved its product line to meet specific customer needs. Over the years, this has grown to include sports apparel and accessories. Today, Nike dominates the market, as shown in Figure 2.2.3, earning $21 billion out of a $34 billion US market in 2017, and forecast to grow its global market share by more than 35% by 2024.44
The trend for sneaker collecting, forums and design options has fashioned a culture of sneaker-freaks, so much so that in 2015 the Brooklyn Museum launched an exhibition of urban and pop culture aptly named The Rise of Sneaker Culture.46 This has led to an exciting era for designers to expand on customer insights and interests, encouraging a new wave of entrepreneurship. Nike has not been left behind: its sheer size has meant that, as new trends emerge, it has managed to capture this market, too, at great speed. On its website, Nike has launched a portal for its customers to customise and even design their own pair of sneakers.47 Where customer service has previously been the competitive edge of small business, big business is now steering its marketing budgets towards customer experience strategies and further monopolising this space.
Similar insights arise from analysing other industries and sectors. Small businesses already have to navigate policy regulation and competitor positioning. Big business, with its advantage of size, can be an additional barrier to a small business establishing itself and growing. However, because of its size, a small business has the agility to adapt faster, as it typically does not have to navigate internal bureaucratic processes that prohibit change.
The truth lies between some businesses having limited potential for growth (including niche businesses for specialist or customised services) and those set up as start-ups to grow by exploiting opportunities in market gaps and new technological insights.
The rise of micromarketing is adding to the narrative. Here, small groups of potential customers are targeted with advertising based on their existing, predicted or expected buying activities. This makes it easier to match the consumer with the goods or services on offer. Web-tracking cookies like search engine optimisers make it easier for small businesses to find out about their shopping habits, then target them through the website or by email.
Clickbait has also gained momentum (both positive and negative) and is used to understand the interests of users to develop intuitive marketing practices. It is mostly not trusted, though, so small business must use it sparingly to draw visitors to a site.48 This has given rise to the concept of the long tail where new technology, low barriers to entry, and micromarketing help sustain a very large number of small firms – even in markets dominated by a few large firms. To their advantage, small businesses can make a pivot much more quickly than an established brand.
Clickbait: internet content used to attract attention and encourage people to click on a link to a web page49
The failure of small businesses is part of their DNA and the ensuing resilience of the entrepreneur who gets up and starts again. It’s impossible to predict which businesses will succeed and should therefore be supported. That’s why there is scope for multi-SMME mandates and initiatives that seek to capture the elusive success factor. These initiatives must be defined as broadly as possible, while managing risks so that we don’t waste time, effort and resources on this quest. We need to rethink how to enable and equip the players in the ecosystem to drive more exponential change and impact. This is a multistakeholder journey: as we’ve seen, resilience alone is insufficient to move the needle of small business contributing to the well-being of the South African economy. Big funding vehicles and development programmes are also not achieving the desired impact efficiently and optimally. It cannot be left to policy, or a response to policy only, as seen from the actions of most role players. Certainly, government plays an important role in the way it fosters entrepreneurs, and sets and applies regulation.50 But government support is not the only solution. As alluded to earlier, we believe that large businesses can do more – much more – to empower and promote small business, both within and outside their own organisations. In the process, they can make themselves more flexible, intentional and collaborative in designing their commercial engagements.
Stakeholder theory can be defined as ‘a view of capitalism that stresses the interconnected relationships between a business, its customers, suppliers, employees, investors, communities and others’.51 Some definitions speak about the value gained by all stakeholders.
Having looked at the many role players in the SMME ecosystem, and their different mandates and purposes, it is time to determine how best to address the challenge raised in the introduction: how can the ecosystem be optimised for better impact? Though we do not present an ultimate solution, we introduce and reconnect the dots, starting with the end goal in mind, consider the WIIFM factor for each stakeholder, and devise a conceptual framework that gives a holistic view of all contributory factors in the ecosystem.
WIIFM: What’s in it for me? The truth behind why people do what people do.
In every ecosystem, it is localised knowledge that determines its functioning capabilities. In other words, the workings and characteristics of each stakeholder (policymaker, entrepreneurial support systems, educational foundation and corporate involvement) differ from one setting to the next, making regional successes context specific and non-transplantable. Nonetheless, we can learn from them.
The role of government is changing to be more collaborative, with government being just one player among many. In the solution economy there are no sectoral divides; role players use social networks to resolve persistent societal issues that hamper positive socio-economic impact and development.52 Using new business models and lightweight technologies, solutions are developed by aligning financial and social incentives towards a greater public good.53
Technology is often put forward as the ultimate solution for many challenges society faces. The question we need to ask ourselves is whether it is the best solution to use, and to what extent it should be used or relied on. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is very clear about technology as a driver, part of the solution economy that was not thought possible before. We propose, as do many others, that technology must be used for the benefit of humans. One of the things we do know is that its many adopters say technology does not change the problems, it changes us. It transforms how we approach problem solving, preserving our planet, enhancing our efficiency and progressing society, as set out in the sustainable development goals that governments have decided to focus on for our collective well-being.
This human-centred approach clearly states that human well-being is the goal of this new era. IDEO. org, creators of The Field Guide to Human-Centred Design,54 say the mindset adopted for the problems faced by community groups should be solved with these groups. This inclusive community-based and community-driven approach produces desirable outcomes for community groups. Desirability is a very important foundational component of this process, as it’s crucial to encourage buy-in through the effective participation of community members within the broader ecosystem. An impact that addresses everyone’s desires and critical success factors will get the most support, which is why everyone must be considered in the design of the solution. Defining the role of each player makes the process of designing the solution less theoretical, more tangible and more acceptable.
According to Guido Boysen, CEO of GroFin Africa, ‘There is a need for the focus to shift from the available collateral in the business to the viability of the business and the ability of the entrepreneur.’55
There are many business development support programmes available across the country, so we will not explore these in detail. All we’ll say here is that it must be easy for hopeful small businesses to gain access to these programmes. According to a study by Omidyar Network, 76% of South African entrepreneurs agree that current business development services are insufficient to meet the needs of new firms as there is no clear way to identify services that have an effective impact.56 Sometimes, the criteria for accessing these programmes are as onerous as those for funding, creating a barrier for small businesses seeking this kind of support. SMME support service providers are often in metros, where office space and transport costs are expensive, making it a difficult cost-benefit consideration exercise for business owners. Once they do gain access, a relevant approach to infusing the learnings becomes the next challenge, as the quality of these programmes varies significantly. Sometimes this results in ‘career incubates’, who sample every programme that they can get into. This raises two questions:
Risk-managed business advisory services are critical to helping SMMEs navigate all these programmes in the SMME development landscape.
Defining the role of each player makes the process of designing the solution less theoretical, more tangible and more acceptable.
One, often ignored, hurdle that SMMEs will need to overcome is to survive past the start-up and early-growth stages, which means they will have to adopt the characteristics, processes, systems and practices that typically sustain big businesses as going concerns and keep them competitive.
Risk management practices increase the potential for business survival.
Studies on reasons for SMMEs failing put a spotlight on basic business practices rather than access,57 stating that SMMEs need to:
These studies further affirm that SMMEs face a number of business risks in their day-to-day operations which threaten to reduce productivity, increase costs and liabilities, and reduce profits.58 Additional research asserts that SMMEs in South Africa do not view risk management as a key component of organisational success, despite evidence that businesses that adopt risk management strategies are more likely to survive and grow.59 Development programmes need to factor in this important component to help create robust businesses and increase entrepreneurial success.
Another interesting aspect, which is also a measure of local and international acceptability and competitiveness, is the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) mark. The SABS is a statutory body established in terms of the Standards Act (No. 5 of 2008), as amended, and is tasked with developing, promoting and maintaining South African national standards of quality on commodities, products and services. A strategic goal is to advance the socio-economic well-being of South Africa in the global economy.60 As SMMEs develop beyond our borders, their credibility is ultimately assured by having the SABS endorsement, where applicable. However, the SABS has recently been dismissed as an obstacle to SMME development because of its huge backlogs and onerous compliance requirements. Manufacturers are understandably upset ‘because they are unable to obtain the SABS mark timeously, or they have been unable to renew 2 600 permits to use the mark’.61
Are automotive component suppliers caught up in this unfortunate mess, unable to quality-assure their products sufficiently so that they can remain competitive? We address this niggling question in the automotive case study in this article. The SABS website lists just under 80 certification and assessment marks for the auto industry on its website, although it’s not clear how many are still valid, as the assurer is plagued by archaic systems.62 The SABS maintains it is a victim of policy that has expectations which are not supported by infrastructure;, government procurement of global products that are not audited by SABS, and a misalignment between its commercial mandate and capacity.63
Small businesses have little to no resources to spend on consulting services that assist with quality assurance, identifying growth strategy levers, and understanding technical compliance requirements. Survival becomes an ever-pressing reality which takes away from business growth strategies. Many development programmes provide support for registering a business, and keeping legal and compliance records, but few provide advisory services. We believe risk management, quality assurance and business advisory services are critical to enabling business survival. Given the short-termism of small business development and support programmes, the small business owner needs to find other ways to run the business, track its progress and implement growth insights.
Business development support programmes will sometimes conduct due diligence to ascertain the position on the growth curve that a small business in the programme is at. However, once the small business exits the programme, they are left to themselves to track and understand their gaps and plans throughout their growth cycle: an often difficult and impossible task to do. Given how expensive business advisory services are, it makes sense to adopt toolkits such as those offered by GrowthWheel. They offer a visual toolbox and online platform for decision-making and action-planning for start-up and growth companies. The toolbox gives the business a 360° perspective on its operations, as shown in Figure 2.2.4, so it can take action to ensure its survival and sustainability.64
A pharmacy-dispensing unit, similar to an automated teller machine (ATM), was launched in Alexandra – the first of its kind in Africa, with technology developed with a team from Germany. The launch was celebrated but questions were raised about why local talent was not used, especially when a young man from Tshwane was busy developing the same technology.66 iAfrikan founder Tefo Mohapi says the reason for this may have been that the state’s internal communication about what was being funded was limited – ecosystems need accessible communication and sharing processes so that localised inclusion can be better realised.67 These are pertinent and solid points, and both are right according to s-curve theory, which we’ll get to next.
Diffusion of innovations: a theory that explains how, why, and at what rate new ideas and technology spread
The goal of innovations is that they are widely adopted as quickly as possible. The theory of diffusion of innovations is that in any community there are five different adopter groups.68 These groups of people can be categorised by the time it takes them to adopt any given innovation. To identify which groups have already adopted an innovation, or which groups marketing can be directed towards, researchers measure the percentage of people in a community who have adopted an innovation at different points in time. The innovation graph for rate of adoption looks like a stretched-out s-curve, which was first sketched by Gabriel Tarde in his research on innovation (see Figure 2.2.5 below).69
The innovation graph allows researchers to measure the rate of adoption from the time it takes for the innovation to go from 0% to 100% of the community, which is where the s-curve flattens out and the innovation becomes part of the social norm. It is suggested that rates of diffusion may vary, but the pattern of change is theorised to be the same.
Each of the elements for adoption are necessary to achieve critical mass, as shown in Figure 2.2.6.
In the case of the pharmacy ATM, it may be that the innovator did not communicate to government or was not aware of what government was doing in his area of interest. Or perhaps the adopter (in this instance, government) was not aware or did not have the platform to be aware of innovations going on nationally. There definitely has been a communication process failure on both sides. A failed diffusion is one that does not reach or even approach 100% adoption due to any mix of its own weaknesses, competition from other innovations or simply a lack of awareness. Without a collaborative platform of communication, many duplications occur and some key nation-building innovations don’t see the light of day. We cannot hope for, or rely on, a serendipitous collision of innovation (supply) and social need or policy exploration (demand) for collaboration to occur. Deliberate and strategic intent is necessary.
It is not that big companies and organisations are not interested in enterprise development. It’s just that very few understand it. The principles for participating in enterprise development are simply that if you wish to benefit from operating, you need to play a part in the country’s socioeconomic imperatives. This is not just a government responsibility.
For big businesses to derive their own value beyond enhancing their transformation strategy, they need to recognise the benefits of participating in socio-economic imperatives. In big business and governmental institutions, whose core function Without a collaborative platform of communication, many duplications occur and some key nation-building innovations don’t see the light of day. We cannot hope for, or rely on, a serendipitous collision of innovation (supply) and social need or policy exploration (demand) for collaboration to occur. Deliberate and strategic intent is necessary. is business funding (financiers) and development (training institutions), strategic alignment seems simpler. Institutions that feel compelled to incorporate enterprise development as a policy activity are the ones seeking clarity in order to shift their thinking more strategically. The following options can be contemplated in an enterprise development programme:
Two examples of value-chain-aligned programmes we can learn from are Telkom and Woolworths. The Telkom FutureMakers programme supports strategic start-ups and existing small businesses as well as other entrepreneurial ventures aligned to the technology sector and the Telkom value chain.73 It has created an ecosystem that allows the small business to access funding, space, networks and sourcing opportunities. The Woolworths Supplier and Enterprise Development programme supports emerging small and medium-sized business in the Woolworths supply chain.74 The automotive industry can learn from Telkom’s and Woolworths’ component or value-chain development programme to create pipeline-based strategies. The missing link in programmes such as those run by the Automotive Industry Development Centre (AIDC) is inclusion in the supply chain (access to markets). Development is pointless without that last piece, especially as it adds more reliable small businesses to the supply chain.
Big business can also help small businesses and themselves:
Most notably, programmes that seek only to be compliant provide short-lived impact. These quick initiatives benefit the big corporate’s scorecard without creating sustainable impact. Phased programmes that have different layers or types of support over time have achieved much more for small business survival.
Government often partners with business to produce solutions that add value to society. Take the example of the Med-e-Mass partnership between Altron and the City of Johannesburg, which was established in 2016 to create an electronic health platform that reduces paperbased recording.75 ‘With the eHealth@Joburg facility, healthcare workers use technology to improve health delivery, reduce clinic waiting times, improve patient record keeping, and ultimately improve patient healthcare. This benefits government health workers, business and the general public.’76 By first assessing the social structures and needs in communities, more inclusive programmes can be designed.
Focusing greater attention on township support, the Gauteng Enterprise Propeller (GEP) programme has put measures in place to encourage even more involvement and interest in the township economy, as well as in rural economies. As part of the GEP’s ‘radical economic development’ programme, the township economy is going to receive up to 30% of its spend.77 Proper monitoring and evaluation of the success and impact of this commitment will need to be in place to drive the right behaviours. This supported ecosystem will see money circulate within its boundaries and overflow into societal development and inclusion.
Township incubation programmes have mushroomed to address the access and geographic reach of township entrepreneurs and small business owners. The spatial layout and unique dynamics of townships such as the type of entrepreneurship that occurs in this space changes the discourse for multistakeholder collaboration, however, as most SMME development is concentrated in the big metros.78 We need to examine whether the same methodology found in the urban-based programmes is appropriate, as some of these township programmes are replicas of the urban ones.
Unlike in other areas, the township economy has a proliferation of micro-enterprises. With retail liquor and grocery shops making up the bulk of them, it shows how regular purchase requirements have been satisfied through this local market. Another group of micro-enterprises with a big presence in townships is mechanical repair services, which is closely related to our case study in this chapter. In formulating policies and strategies for the township economy, policymakers, funders and SMME development agencies should consider this context before disrupting what appears to be a thriving community who have found ways to support their own socio-economic needs. In a populous low-employment environment, financial and non-financial contributions of access to business developmental support do well to sustain these enterprises while addressing their own situational challenges. The township entrepreneur therefore also seeks markets outside the township when there is little disposable income that is available for its product or service within the township.
The ability to execute a project successfully helps the entrepreneur to retain clients and source new ones through referrals. But another major challenge for non-urban (township and rural) businesses is geographic access: limited transport options affect their access to markets. This challenge is felt by SMMEs when having to deliver in far-flung places, and by entrepreneurs needing to source clients far from their place of work or establishments. Social entrepreneurs have tried to address this challenge for employees in big corporates with solutions which entrepreneurs can adapt and adopt easily to address their own transport needs (see the flx case study on Go Metro ). With rising transport costs and limited public transport options, Go Metro has the potential to address this by giving entrepreneurs who can’t be based in metro areas access to market opportunities. Entrepreneurs deliver a service for corporates, just like employees do – they can use developing transport ecosystems for their own benefit.
Were it not for government policy, in the form of BEE, and integrated reporting requirements, this number is likely to have been lower. From these numbers, we can deduce that if businesses were not thriving, there would be less to contribute, and communities would be adversely affected. It is clear that, to support societal inclusion and well-being, business and government need to collaborate and contribute.
Over and above paying taxes for service delivery, communities rely on corporate social investment (CSI) from business to contribute to the well-being of society. In 2017, this amounted to R9.1 billion.79 The total contribution is calculated as an average of 1% of net profit after tax across most contributors.80 Trialogue reports that R137 billion was spent on advancing social development over the past 20 years.81 Were it not for government policy, in the form of BEE, and integrated reporting requirements, this number is likely to have been lower.82 From these numbers, we can deduce that if businesses were not thriving, there would be less to contribute, and communities would be adversely affected. It is clear that, to support societal inclusion and well-being, business and government need to collaborate and contribute. Moreover, CSI projects should be assessed on their ability to leave a lasting and sustainable impact on the communities where they are implemented. Strategic CSI has now become a big consideration for corporates as they seek to create shared value for all beneficiaries and contributors. Small businesses in turn need a platform for their ideas and for showcasing how they can drive innovation and social entrepreneurship or collaborate in big government projects.
In addition to enabling policymaking, government plays a key role in collaborative partnerships that enhance SMME development and promote sustainability. Social dialogue has also helped in getting the right kind of engagement to test how supportive or disabling national strategies are in driving enterprise development. Government has introduced several tax incentives to grow small business. Any investment into a Section 12J venture capital company is tax deductible in the year in which it is made, and that deduction will be permanent if the investment is held for five years.83
Current Department of Small Business Development projects and their associated benefits are:84
The 22 on Sloane initiative, touted as Africa’s largest start-up campus, is a recent governmentled project that small and big business can tap into and collaborate on.85 These are only a few of the initiatives that support SMME development through financial and non-financial means, and use tax incentives as enhanced support. One shortcoming is that communication on these programmes is not readily accessible and sometimes the access process can be intimidating for small businesses to consider. Cooperating is collaborative In 2009, Entrepreneur magazine published a guide to being in a co-operative.86 In its list of pros and cons, it stated that co-operatives are good for a group in a community. Co-operatives are self-forming ecosystems with a social and commercial aim. They were promoted by the dti to create groups that would develop and run businesses. This collaborative process would theoretically create financially viable enterprises within a social support system. Co-operatives have been earmarked in the government’s 2014–2019 Medium Term Strategic Framework as key to radical economic transformation, a means to reduce high levels of market concentration and monopolies.87 Since 2002, government has given grants of R350 000 per co-operative, with studies showing 22 619 co-operatives being established; however, these same studies show how 88% of these have failed.88 The authors of the framework argue that co-operatives fail because of an inconsistent understanding and commitment to co-operative knowledge, value and basic principles. They also struggle to form strategically, work co-operatively, function professionally and use available resources and networks.89 The co-operative structure, philosophically, forms the basis of the ultimate framework for a functioning high-impact ecosystem where the sum of the parts is better than the individual trying to make it on their own, and where institutional systems and the individual converge most optimally.
Insights into how each role player can benefit from multistakeholder collaboration are presented in Figure 2.2.7, which summarises their contributions and impact. We have not tried to capture everything about this topic, as it is a large and complex one. Rather, we highlight some key aspects that we trust will trigger a new way of thinking about SMME development: most importantly, that it is more substantive and sustainable when it is tackled collaboratively.
While role players cannot predict how the ecosystem will function with accuracy, each has control over what they can contribute. In many cases, policymakers do not integrate each other’s mandates into their strategies, resulting in contradictions, conflicts and unintended consequences in outcomes. The same can be said of big business, which has to satisfy multiple stakeholders (hence our proposal to do enterprise development in a way that makes business sense and is a strategic fit).
The challenges faced by entrepreneurs are not only policy or access to support programmes or to big business supply-chains; sometimes entrepreneurs need to think outside the box by using their own networks and open-source technologies. Participating in programmes creates capacity – you can’t win if you haven’t entered. Lastly, communities play a vital role as they are the providers of customers, suppliers, employees and entrepreneurs in the ecosystem. Creating broad-based programmes that are inclusive will therefore go a long way towards fuelling the well-being of society.
In 2007 the International Labour Organization set out 17 conditions for sustainable enterprises. These are set out in Table 2.2.2.
The 17 pillars (in no particular order) provide a framework for an enabling environment, but the stakeholders have to play their part. What has been seen to work is when each stakeholder optimises its involvement while being aware of its impact on the ecosystem. One thing is that the small business and entrepreneurial space is complex and multifaceted. You may know what is in the system (from the listicles provided by all stakeholders on what they have in store for participants) but you may not know for certain what you will encounter during multistakeholder engagements. In spite of this, commit to playing your part.
Listicle: a published article structured in the form of a list, typically having some additional content relating to each item91
We have identified key role players that need to step up to support this ecosystem. More than anything, a cohesive, well-functioning and collaborative ecosystem needs to have a communication strategy that is inclusive and far-reaching. Stakeholders need to be willing to engage and implement for shared value. To achieve this, we need individual acknowledgement that everyone can play a role in enabling SMME development to increase well-being for individuals and all parts of society. In the president’s words: ‘Thuma mina’ (send me).
Case study by Kurtney Naidoo
Promoting black supplier development is part of government’s overall inclusive growth plan for the automotive industry.92
To promote transformation in the automotive industry and facilitate inclusive growth in the local market, South African original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) need to commit to localisation strategies by developing black South African suppliers. This will help deepen the automotive industry supply chain while achieving the transformation requirements set out by the 2035 South African Automotive Masterplan.
This case study illustrates the barriers to market access and growth encountered by black suppliers in small, medium and micro-sized enterprises (SMMEs) in the automotive component industry. The financial services sector, as an insurance provider to the industry, forms part of the supply value chain. Understanding the mandate in this sector can inform many an insurance strategy for enterprise and supplier development programmes in corporates.
In 1995 government released the Motor Industry Development Plan (MIDP) in an attempt to restructure the industry in line with the following objectives:
The plan was based on the Australian model of export complementation; it reduced import tariffs by 3.5% a year until 2002 and encouraged the export of locally sourced components to secure duty-free imports. It also encouraged the creation of a smaller, more efficient industry by ‘rationalising’ both the components and assembly sectors and bringing down the number of auto models produced locally.
The plan was clearly an inversion of the old apartheid policy: instead of promoting tightly controlled supply chains and inward industrialisation, it looked to a complete reorientation of the components sector towards international markets.
An important part of this process was the promotion of black businesses within the components sector of the industry supply chain.
Contrary to expectation that the MIDP would cure all ills, greater exposure to world markets has had adverse and unintended consequences.
The auto industry is on the horns of a dilemma: it is forced to enter the global economy saddled with structural constraints that competitors – principally in the emerging markets – do not face.
Taken together, these constraints have severely inhibited meaningful restructuring efforts at plant level. There is, however, currently no reliable database indicating the number of black suppliers in the industry. This is based on research conducted by Volkswagen, which concludes that there are approximately 41 black-owned component-supplier companies in the industry – a negligible number.93
The surveyed group of 11 black suppliers indicated that their key challenges were:
1. Global procurement: price and quality
2. Industry support commitment
Access to funding could empower black suppliers to address the challenges listed above, resulting in the development of technology and skills that will enable them to adhere to the quality standards set for suppliers to OEMs in South Africa. This will make them more competitive and contribute to transformation in the sector.
Many SMMEs depend on bank lending (straight debt) to finance their businesses. However, they are often at a disadvantage when it comes to accessing this finance. Many have limited collateral, a limited credit history and higher risk-return profiles. In the case of some, profits or loss cannot be estimated.95 ‘Moreover, while a large share of SMMEs do not have access to formal credit, long-term credit to sustain investment and innovation is even scarcer, which severely limits growth opportunities.’96
Broad-based support and access will enhance the automotive industry, but for the most part there isn’t a cohesive and far-reaching strategy that will increase inclusivity for participants in this sector. Some of the following available support mechanisms were presented to respondents. Many claimed to have no knowledge, or only a limited understanding, of how they can access this support:
Respondents were also asked if they had successfully used any of the government initiatives mentioned. Only 36% indicated they had. This suggests that although these support programmes exist, their effectiveness needs to be questioned.
An enabling ecosystem that has a working governance and compliance process is key for small businesses. Yet, in addition to the economic challenges to their existence, the suppliers participating in the study also experienced institutional and systemic obstacles in government. These included:
By facilitating assistance outlined earlier, government will be able to generate new entrants, ultimately advancing technology and skills development and improving black supplier capabilities.
Our results show that black suppliers have encountered many constraints, yet there are prospects for black suppliers. To help them realise this, we recommend the following:
The findings of this study indicate that financial (funding) and non-financial (market access) assistance from the government can meet many fundamental challenges faced by budding black suppliers. By facilitating assistance outlined earlier, government will be able to generate new entrants, ultimately advancing technology and skills development and improving black supplier capabilities. This facilitation, based on the findings of this study, calls for the review of the current application processes and requirements to enable easier access to funding for black suppliers. Reviewing the current processes will significantly enhance the highly impactful prospects of these initiatives.
Note that the implementation of the automotive masterplan in the forthcoming years will substantially address the challenges emphasised by focusing largely on increasing local content and the number of black-owned companies in the automotive value chain. The masterplan aims to increase employment in the automotive industry considerably and develop the skill set of black suppliers. If South African OEMs and current tier 1 suppliers in the value chain adhere to the goals set out in the masterplan, the automotive industry will see the successful increase in skilled labour, local content and employment levels and the overall development of black suppliers to the automotive industry.
“ The South African masterplan is unquestionably a policy tool that will catalyze deeper localisation in the automotive supply chain and foster SME development, thereby facilitating transformation in the industry ”
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