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12 November 2014
Should universities invigorate small business development in SA?

Should universities invigorate small business development in SA?:  Minister Lindiwe Zulu speaks at UWC’s Chancellor’s Roundtable

The African Development Bank estimates that Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) contribute more than 33 percent to gross domestic product (GDP) on the African continent, and 45 percent to employment. According to the Banking SETA report, some researchers have estimated the total economic output of SMEs in South Africa to be 50% of GDP, and it is also estimated that they provide employment to about 60% of the labour force. SMEs are therefore an important contributor to the economy and are considered a driver for reducing unemployment, given that the formal sector continues to shed jobs.

However, SMEs in South Africa face a number of challenges, the most important of which have been reported by a number of organisations (including Ntsika, the Dti, ABSA, SMBDCI) to be:

• a lack of management skills

• finance and obtaining credit

• access to markets and developing relationships with customers

• appropriate technology and low production capacity

• support for the role that they play in economic development

The 2014 University of the Western Cape (UWC) Chancellor's Roundtable aims to provide a platform where different stakeholders such as government, business, community and the education sector can share critical insights and opinions related to the country’s economic development agenda. The event will be hosted on 12 November 2014 at the UWC EMS Building.

Key participants are: The Minister of Small Business Development, Lindiwe Zulu; Dean of the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, Professor Kobus Visser; South African Small Medium Enterprises Federation (SASMEF) Representative, Carl J Lotter; and UWC Chancellor, Archbishop Dr Thabo Makgoba and Charleen Duncan, Project Manager of UWC’s Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI).

The event aims to deal with national issues in respect of SME development as a major tool for job creation. The National Development Plan refers to 90% of new jobs by 2030 having to come from small and growing firms. If this goal is to be achieved, the SME sector needs to produce the largest quantity of jobs in the country. It is important for these enterprises to be supported in order to be sustainable, to grow and to thrive.  

UWC mentions that it is important to highlight the critical role that government, big business and academic institutions need to play when it comes to supporting job creation through enterprise development.

Members of the audience will have the chance to understand the relevance and the importance of the Triple Helix – the relationship of government, academia and private sector partnerships - as vital to the delivery of the national goals of economic development and SME in particular.

It will discuss the importance of having entrepreneurial universities, so that an entrepreneurial mindset can be established, making sure graduates are entrepreneurial.  

The roundtable wishes to make it attractive to be a SME and to explore how we can reduce the failure rate of SME start-ups, particularly in the informal sector, as well as to discuss how job maintenance can be established in the SME space.

The University wants to establish how to deal with the challenges that small businesses face, and in so doing recognise the lack of access to information and finance, low skills resources, and the unfavourable regulatory and policy space these businesses are exposed to. It also seeks to establish how we can create an enabling environment that will nurture this growth, what the role of the 3 tiers of government are, and how government, the corporate sector and academia will facilitate this going forward.

Accessible and affordable education will be discussed, as well as the role that government and business should play in this space.

With UWC’s history of growing and developing leaders in South Africa, the institution has established the CEI, which aims to generate the same successful outcomes in the areas of entrepreneurship education, innovation and small business development.

Date of the event : Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Time: 14:00

Venue: UWC Economic and Management Sciences Building

For more information, contact Charleen Duncan on 021 959 9551 or via email at

For media enquiries, contact Aidan van den Heever on 021 959 9566 / 071 210 7177 or via email at, or Luthando Tyhalibongo on 021 959 2625 or via email at