I am blessed; I was born into a family of entrepreneurs. After initially resisting, I caught the bug and for the last 15 years, I have run my own business. I have had good times and I have had bad times but I would not change it for the world!
The longer I run my business, the more I am amazed by the power of the small business. I am also astounded by how little politicians or senior people at large companies understand about small business or entrepreneurs. They don’t understand the challenges, they don’t understand the headaches and they don’t understand how well earned the rewards are.
If South Africa was serious about achieving the elusive 6% growth rate that we would encourage the growth of entrepreneurship. We could point to our newly established Ministry of Small Business, but I fear that it will be as effective at growing small business as the Ministry of Everyone Except Men was at lowering the numbers of rapes in this country, because politicians seldom interact with small business people.
Whenever the discussion turns to small business, we hear “spaza shops and taxi drivers”; now I will admit that these people are independently employed and I wish them well, but the real power comes from the small formal business that rents office space, uses the internet and employs people 20 at a time. These businesses are economic rocket fuel.
These entrepreneurs need only two things from government:
- Tax breaks for the company that benefits the business owner. This could be in the form of lowering the corporate tax based on a rising scale, or, a rebate based on the size of the payroll, or, a percentage rebate of PAYE or VAT payments.
- Government please get out of the way. The commitment to red tape in the New South Africa has become legendary and it is killing small business. Even more damagingly it is helping bigger companies get even bigger because they have a cast of thousands who can do nothing all day but fill in forms.
Perhaps every politician should be forced to run a business for a minimum of five years before they become eligible to stand for office. On the bright side, we may be in for a brighter future because at least Julius Malema has experience in running his own business. On Point Engineering and his cabbage farming exploits were legendary. He must surely understand the challenges.