Minimum-wage headache

Owners of small businesses say implementation of bill in January will put strain on already tight budgets

Ababalwe Mbanyana, left, Unathi Maqoko and Nontobeko Tyandela, who received Nafcoc certification at a graduation ceremony at the Athenaeum in Port Elizabeth on Thursday
Ababalwe Mbanyana, left, Unathi Maqoko and Nontobeko Tyandela, who received Nafcoc certification at a graduation ceremony at the Athenaeum in Port Elizabeth on Thursday
Image: Deneesha Pillay

Come January, the implementation of the minimum wage bill will put strain on the budget of small businesses, but to remain sustainable they will have to comply.

This is according to SMME owners who received certification on Thursday at the National African Federated Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Nafcoc) closing ceremony in Port Elizabeth.

Adding to that, they said, was the pressure of securing tenders and contracts.

Nokozola Maqoko and her daughter Unathi, who run construction company Zozo’s Business Solutions in KwaNobuhle, Uitenhage, were two of the 30 recipients of certification.

On the new minimum wage, Maqoko said SMMEs often did not have access to sufficient funds and capital to complete projects and would likely be paid less by the sub-contractors who would now have to fork out more to pay their own labourers come January.

Employers would have to start paying the R20-an-hour minimum wage from January 1, President Cyril Ramaphosa said earlier this month.

“It’s going to be a struggle. “It’s already difficult to work under main contractors and sometimes it feels like they use us because we don’t have enough experience,” Maqoko said.

Complying with the minimum wage is going to be hard, but we must do it
Nokozola Maqoko

“The opportunities for us are limited. Complying with the minimum wage is going to be hard, but we must do it.”

Nontobeko Tyandela, who runs a creche in KwaMagxaki, said the minimum wage would burden her business with increased costs.

“I can’t say that it is a good thing. If financially you are not okay, you don’t have business.

“It’s going to be hard on us, but we will make it work and comply,” she said.

Guest speaker and African Pioneer Group CEO Stephen Dondolo said up-and-coming businesses needed to move away from mere survival.

Dondolo said businesspeople would not thrive if they continued to “work from hand to mouth”.

“We need to graduate ourselves to a level where we create wealth,” he said.

The established entrepreneur said that real businessmen and women grabbed opportunity as soon as it presented itself.

“As Africans we need to start looking at developing skills, and if we don’t, it is going to catch up with us. If you build a business to last you will be able to support other small and upcoming businesses – you will be able to help [spread] the wealth around you,” Dondolo said.

The 30 SMME Nafcoc graduates were offered a 15-day training programme on business management.

The programme included training in health and safety, first aid, financial management, costing and pricing and the process of tendering.

Fezile Nesi, one of the recipients, said his security business would benefit from the training and he was eager to put into practice what he had learnt.

“This programme helped me so much.

“I understand more about the business process, how to manage money and be a better entrepreneur,” Nesi said.

Nafcoc Nelson Mandela Bay chair Nceba Faku, addressing the graduates, said: “Learning the tools of the trade is the only way you can improve the economy.”

He said the purpose of the programme was to assist SMMEs to help reduce unemployment and become creators of economic growth and sustainability for the country.

“Nafcoc is busy planting the seed of quality members so that people who embark on business do it right and grow.

“You will never grow if you don’t know the correct tools to use,” Faku said.

Bay businessman Khusta Jack and newly appointed Nafcoc national president Sabelo Macingwane also attended the event.

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