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14 December 2022
UWC’s Small Business Clinic Benefits Students and the Community
Small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the core of South Africa’s economy, constituting more than 90% of all formal businesses, employing about 60% of the workforce, and contributing 34% to the GDP.

But data shows that approximately 20% of new SMEs fail during the first two years, 45% during the first five years and 65% during the first ten years, with only 25% making it to 15 years or more.
Lisle Svenson, SBC

For those reasons, the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences established the Small Business Clinic (SBC) unit within ZoneLearning@UWC – to help heal “sicknesses” that hinder the survival of small businesses.

Last week the clinic hosted its second financial literacy workshop for small businesses, which was attended by small business owners from across Cape Town, the West Coast and Boland areas. The workshop focused on budgeting and financial wellness for small and micro enterprises and individuals.

“We are like a clinic in the community where you can come if you know that there is something wrong with your business, just like your body, and you are not sure about it,” explains Lisle Svenson, SBC coordinator. 

“We will then do a diagnostic test of your business, the same way they would do in a clinic or hospital. Maybe the challenge is budgeting, giving your customers too long terms to pay, but the business is not healthy. The plan is to make the clinic an entity where students doing different modules in the faculty can, as part of their assessments, conduct their experiential training by identifying challenges experienced by small business owners and coming up with recommendations to address the problems”.

The SBC will collaborate with industry and other stakeholders such as SEDA (Small Enterprise Development Agency) and SEFA (Small Enterprise Finance Agency) to facilitate the youth’s interest in entrepreneurship where students provide advice and support to business owners on various matters like ideation and planning, operational and financial issues, as well as sustaining and growing a business.

“The purpose is to develop hearts and minds of the youth towards entrepreneurship, position entrepreneurship as a viable career option for our graduates and enhance the skills and competencies of our graduates in small business development. We also want to create a space for sharing stories of good practice and facilitating access to networks of support”, Svenson explained.

She said what she loves the most about the clinic is that it aligns with the university’s strategy of community development, job creation and capacitating students with real-life lessons. 

“The point is the clinic is helping the community while, at the same time, it is helping students to provide guidance, experiential learning and mentorship to assist businesses. Some may end up as consultants.”
Small business owners from across Cape Town, the West Coast and Boland areas attended a financial literacy workshop hosted by the the Small Business Clinic (SBC) unit within ZoneLearning@UWC.