SMEs are ‘only way to provide jobs’

Lee-Anne Butler

DESPITE all the challenges facing businesses today, boosting and supporting the growth of small and medium enterprises is the only solution to unemployment in the country, leading Eastern Cape businessman Stephen Dondolo says.

Dondolo, chief executive of African Pioneer Limited, a leading empowerment company, was addressing entrepreneurs and other guests on issues affecting entrepreneurial growth in South Africa.

Dondolo was the keynote speaker at the launch of this year’s Sanlam/Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year competition at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Summerstrand yesterday.

As the executive chairman of the Pioneer Fishing Group, the fourth biggest fishing company in South Africa, and director and shareholder of numerous companies, Dondolo has interests which include the promotion of education in disadvantaged communities and the promotion of a culture of entrepreneurship.

“The building of business starts with entrepreneurs. As an entrepreneur you are an engine for wealth creation in this country. We have so many opportunities in our province, all it takes is thinking outside the box. That is what being an entrepreneur is all about – coming up with something new and innovative.”

Dondolo said small and medium enterprises needed to work together to lobby all spheres of government to ensure they provided an environment for businesses to grow.

He said the main challenges facing start-up businesses job creation today was the lack of funding and collateral, stringent labour laws which favoured employees rather than employers and the slow growth of the economy.

“Our economy is not growing fast enough. We need it to grow by 6% in order to grow the desired jobs.”

Dondolo said corruption, nepotism and the lack of service delivery were also impacting on the growth of small business and job creation.

“The lack of service delivery has increased the cost of doing business, which has hindered entrepreneurs and has left government in a situation where the pool of taxpayers is becoming smaller but its expenditure is increasing. This is why the taxpayers are being squeezed. It is a vicious cycle.”

Lionel Billings, national head of consulting services for Business Partners, said it had held the entrepreneur of the year competition for the past 25 years to support the growth of small and medium enterprises in the country. “SME’s are the foundation of every economy so we want to celebrate and recognise the entrepreneurs who are out contributing to wealth creation in the country.”

There are various categories and the total prize-money is R1.34-million.

Dondolo, a former winner, also advised entrepreneurs in the audience to enter the competition due to the exposure and publicity it had given his business.

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