SME’s to have their say

SME Research

Is South Africa a welcoming environment for the entrepreneur?
That is one of the key questions tackled by this year’s edition of the annual SME Survey, which has been probing the factors behind competitiveness of small, medium and micro enterprises since 2003. The 2005 edition will be the largest research survey yet of SMEs in South Africa, with decision-makers at 6 000 companies to be interviewed over a two-month period.
“In the past three years we have gained crucial knowledge about just what it is that makes SMEs tick,” says Arthur Goldstuck, principal researcher for the SME Survey. “ For instance, we know by now that IT plays a major role in keeping small business competitive, and we know that Government efforts in this direction have had limited impact on small and medium enterprises. The question that now arises is whether the South Africa business environment in general makes it easier for small business to get off the ground, to grow and to transform themselves when needed.”
SME Survey 2005 will explore, among other topics, the role played by Black Economic Empowerment, the importance of access to expertise, finances and resources, and the role played by information technology such as the Internet, networking and business software in the competitiveness of small, medium and micro enterprises.
The survey is backed by Standard Bank, MWEB Business and Microsoft, who all see small and medium enterprises as being among the keys to economic growth in South Africa.
Roy Ross, Director Business Banking at Standard Bank, says: “By sponsoring the SME Survey, Standard Bank demonstrates its commitment to the business market. We have a responsibility to enable entrepreneurship and ensure growth of the SME segment within the economy.”
Says André Joubert, general manager at MWEB Business: “With government’s recent deregulation of the telecommunications market, the Internet will continue to be one of the biggest catalysts for the growth of small and medium businesses. Market forces such as a general economic upswing and bandwidth price reductions are driving more SMEs to adopt the Internet as a critical business tool.”

SMM&P Director at Microsoft South Africa, Bradley Hopkinson, adds: “Microsoft’s sponsorship of the SME Survey 2005 is not only a demonstration of the value and potential we see in the SME sector. It is also an opportunity for us to understand small business better and ultimately foster an understanding of how technology can help small businesses be successful and globally competitive.”
The inaugural SME Survey conducted in 2003 interviewed some 5 900 SME decision makers on the impact of Information Technology and financial services on the levels of competitiveness among SMEs. In 2004, the spotlight shifted to Government’s role in developing SMEs, with almost 3 000 decision-makers in major centres interviewed.
“The decision to double the response base in 2005 means that it will be possible to drill down meaningfully into the differences between respondents in different sectors, different regions and of different sizes,” says Goldstuck.
Members of the public or business community who want further information on SME Survey 2005 or the results of SME Survey 2004 can visit the SME Survey Web site at http://www.smesurvey.co.za.

* For more information contact Debbie Whittaker on (011) 467 2836.

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