The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants’ (SAICA) annual SME Insight Survey, which is part of SAICA’s continued commitment to government’s National Development Plan (NDP) objective of using SME growth as a driver of employment, enables the institute to present evidence for dialogue with policymakers to suggest ways to facilitate such SME growth.
The 2015 survey attracted more than 1 300 responses from business owners. The increase in this figure, from 800 respondents in 2014, indicates that many SMEs are eager to engage government on policy decisions that will affect their chances of long-term sustainability and individual company growth – which, the research also indicates, is the only way to turn SMEs into mass job creators.
The 2016 survey is currently calling for SMEs to participate, and thereby to voice their wishes regarding the policy conditions that government could change. Changes to government policies over the past two years indicate that this type of pressure helps to give the minister more power to influence change. SMEs wishing to participate should find the survey here: 2016 SMME Insight Survey
Of the companies who participated in the last survey, those employing the highest staff complement are invariably those SMEs with the highest turnover. Clearly if these companies could increase turnover they would employ many more people.
What many SMEs are not eager to do, the research makes clear, is to grow their businesses by doing business with government, at national, provincial or municipal level. 73% of respondents do no business with any government agency whatsoever, and a further 15% rely on government contracts for less than 10% of their turnover.
Only 8% derive more than 25% of their turnover from government business.
This is even more anomalous when considered alongside the fact that 38% of the SMEs surveyed have BBBEE ratings of 4 or better (under the previous regulations), which qualify them to compete for government tenders at a time in which the state is spending enormous amounts on development, and is ostensibly building a procurement engine that favours transformed SMEs.
The 73% who do no government business at all were asked to rate their reasons for this, and the general consensus identified a number of key perceived barriers:
- That the tender process is too onerous, and is not transparent
- That government institutions are too slow to make decisions
- That government takes too long to pay invoices, especially to SMEs, which have the most sensitive cash-flow
- That they cannot meet BBBEE requirements, or that the BBBEE certification process is too onerous.
Changing perceptions: Government is listening
This is not the first time these issues have been raised, and it appears that government is responding proactively in a number of areas. In his 2015 Budget speech, former Minister of Finance Nhlanhla Nene announced his intention to create one portal for doing business with government; a central tender registry that will allow SMEs to register with all the requisite paperwork once, and henceforth apply for tenders without having to repeat the red tape each time.
This should make the process of applying for government contracts less daunting, while at the same time affording the transparency which will help to curb nepotism and/or corruption. It should also speed up the process of awarding tenders; hopefully, the establishment of this registry will encourage more SMEs to compete for government business.
It is understandable that late payment is a thorny issue for SMEs, most of which rate other SMEs, as a sector, most likely to settle invoices on time. With restricted capital and high overheads, many SMEs cannot survive, let alone prosper and grow, without reliable cash-flow.
Government’s undertaking to institute a KPI for all government financial officers to make payments within 30 days will be a strong incentive for SMEs to bid for more government business – as long as it is monitored and enforced effectively at all levels by the Treasury.
At the same time, as successful SME owners who do plenty of government work have pointed out, government’s financial officers are also bound by stringent regulations set in place to contain fraud, so by law they cannot make payments for which the paperwork is not in order.
SMEs need to ensure they understand whatever tax certificates, legal compliances or other information are required, and submit them in full along with their invoices, if they want to enable and receive prompt payment.
Government have also halved the tax rate on smaller SMEs, from 6% to 3%. This will make it easier for these businesses to compete with bigger operations for business in both the private and public sector, and with government being by far the country’s biggest spender on procurement, it should also encourage more SMEs to do business with government.
The turnover threshold regarding complex BBBEE compliance process has also been doubled, to R10 million. 75% of the SAICA SME Survey respondents have turnovers of less than R10 million per year, so under the new regulations they are automatically rated at least at BBBEE Level 4, which qualifies them to bid on government tenders. Far from being an onerous battle with red tape, the new BBBEE codes actually make it easier for many smaller SMEs to tender for government business.
An area that requires action
There is another concern raised by SMEs that suggest government could, through fairly minor tweaks in policy, make it easier for entrepreneurs to establish SMEs and grow them to the point where they become job creators. 49.9% of those surveyed cited government red tape as a disincentive to starting new companies – these include a wait of three weeks or more to process VAT registration, and similar hurdles involving company registration, tax clearance certificates and other required permits. Some have suggested that government might find the example of Rwanda a useful model in streamlining these processes.
The 2014/15 Global Competitiveness Report by the World Economic Forum (WEF) ranked Rwanda 6th out of 144 countries in terms of ‘burden of government regulation’. The country has achieved this status by attending to areas like the ease of starting a business, obtaining construction permits, registering a property, paying taxes, trading across borders and enforcing payments. It takes six-and-a-half days to register a company in Rwanda, and a day to register for VAT; South African start-up businesses can expect a wait of 46 days and 21 days, respectively, to obtain these essential clearances.
It is hoped that the concerns expressed by SME owners in the research will be considered by government policymakers in their on-going efforts to support and encourage SME growth, and that the information will be valuable in shaping future policy. SAICA has launched the 2016 version of the annual SME Insight Survey as its contribution to the health of the SME sector and thereby to job creation. As Terence Nombembe, CEO of SAICA, said when releasing the 2015 Insight Survey’s findings, “By collecting these insights and investigating the findings, our aim is to influence policymakers in creating a more enabling SME environment – and to demonstrate the ways in which SAICA’s Small and Medium Practices (SMPs) can better assist their SME clients.”
Top 22 Start-ups Chosen For Final Selection Days – Startupbootcamp Africa
After receiving 1,004 applications from all over the world, the SBC team in conjunction with the programme’s corporate sponsors have narrowed the applicants down to 22 top-tier tech start-ups that will be invited to the Final Selection Days on July 11th and 12th at PwC’s headquarters in Cape Town.
SBC Africa received 1,004 total applications from 77 countries on 5 continents. The start-ups that applied were exceptionally impressive and have gained more traction in the market than the applicants for the 2017 cohort. The talent in Africa is phenomenal and the corporate sponsors and SBC team dedicated 2 weeks to narrow it down to the Top 22 to be invited to Final Selection Days.
“It’s been an intense process due to the exceptionally high calibre of start-ups applying to the programme from across the continent,” states Philip Kiracofe, co-founder and CEO of Startupbootcamp Africa. “From 1,004 applications we have managed to narrow down to 22 of the most creative teams tackling daunting African problems. One of the key differentiators for start-ups that participate in the SBC Accelerator is the opportunity to secure commercial contracts with our sponsors. In order to make it onto our Top 22, each start-up has been chosen by at least 2 sponsors for potential proof of concept projects. The 2018 cohort is already shaping up to be a milestone moment for Africa.”
Zachariah George, co-founder and Chief Investment Officer of Startupbootcamp Africa added, “The investment community across Africa is taking note of the significant traction and access to market that being an alumni of a global accelerator programme like ours provides. We are excited to further galvanize venture capital funding into tech startups through significant de-risking of business models and customer validation with our corporate partners globally.”
From the 22 teams that have been invited to the SBC Africa Final Selection Days, 10 will be selected to join the 2018 cohort. Over the span of the two Final Selection Days, the startups in attendance will have the opportunity to present their pitches to high-profile corporate sponsors, investors, thought leaders and industry experts and will have the chance to sit down with mentors and sponsors alike. At the end of Day Two, the Top 10 will be announced and will be welcomed to the Cape Town-based Accelerator that kicks off in August. During the 3-month period, they will have the opportunity to scale at an incredible pace and seal pilot and proof of concept deals with the corporate sponsors to the programme.
The SBC Africa Accelerator is anchored and endorsed by heavyweight corporate sponsors RCS, BNP Paribas Personal Finance, Nedbank, Old Mutual and PwC.
“We’ve seen an increase in the quality of start-ups applying to the programme. The awareness of the value of the programme has increased and the success of the first year of the bootcamp speaks for itself. More mature start-ups are also seeing the benefits of participating in Startupbootcamp Africa,” comments Stanley Gabriel, Head of Innovation at Old Mutual.
The Top 22 start-ups invited to the Final Selection Days come from 7 different countries. The numbers are as follows: 8 from Nigeria, 5 from South Africa, 3 from Uganda, 2 from the Ivory Coast, 2 from Kenya, 1 from Ghana and 1 from Ireland.
The names of the start-ups invited to Final Selection Days by country:
- Nigeria: Bankly Technologies, Biyabot, CredPal, FriendsVow, Kudimoney Bank, Medikal HMS, NebulaPay, and ZEEZZ Planet Solutions.
- South Africa: Brandbookalytics Big Data, ifileme, LÜLA, Prospa, and Akiba Digital
- Uganda: CoinPesa Ltd, RoundBob Uganda, and Swipe 2 Pay
- Ivory Coast: Digitech Group, and DISTRICASH
- Kenya: Kakbima, and MPost
- Ghana: Inclusive Financial Technologies
- Ireland: Pago Payments
It has been an incredible 3-month scouting journey for SBC Africa and now that the Top 22 have been announced, the Final Selection Days is the only hurdle left before the Accelerator officially kicks off on 13 August 2018.
There are high expectations for the Top 10 of 2018 and if the quality of the start-ups at this stage is any indication, 2018 is set to be a great success for the African tech and innovation ecosystem.
She Works Hard For Her Money – So Pay Her On Time
Sage research finds that female entrepreneurs suffer more negative effects from late payments than men. Charles Pittaway, Managing Director of Sage Pay, comments on the importance of equal pay for equal work.
Women fight inequality and discrimination every day. They fight for equal pay for equal work. They challenge gender stereotypes in their careers and personal lives. They question unfair social and political norms. They unify under passionate causes, evidenced recently by the #MeToo and #TimesUp campaigns.
With female business builders making up nearly 40% of the global workforce – and heading up 72% of micro-enterprises and 40% of small enterprises in South Africa – any kind of discrimination is unacceptable from a cultural and economic point of view, especially when it involves failure to pay what is owed.
The impact of late payments on small businesses has been widely discussed as an issue that must be eradicated for all entrepreneurs, regardless of gender. But inequality still exists and more needs to be done to eradicate it.
Recent research by Sage highlights that this discrimination doesn’t just impact women in large corporates. Indeed, it identified a worrying trend: female entrepreneurs are more likely to suffer from late payments than their male counterparts.
South Africa was among the six regions (out of 11) surveyed by Sage that reported higher instances of women business builders being paid late. Businesses run by female entrepreneurs in South Africa report that 18% of invoices are paid late and 10% of invoices are written off as bad debt.
Small businesses cannot absorb these costs nor the lost hours spent on admin – amounting to R564 000 in South Africa. The result can be disastrous: in the next 12 months, 1 in 4 female entrepreneurs will prioritise chasing late payments to be more cost efficient, and ironically will become less productive. If these businesses are not paid on time, they will also struggle to pay bonuses and suppliers, and will be forced to delay investments in their businesses.
The fact that late or non-payments is a more common occurrence experienced by female entrepreneurs is part of a wider problem. Women report more instances of sexist comments, disregard for their business ambitions and lack of female mentors as significant underlying reasons why there is now a heightened cultural stigma around chasing late payments amongst female entrepreneurs – more so than men.
In South Africa, the stigma extends past culture, with 40% of Small & Medium Businesses failing to follow up on late payments to protect client relationships. Time and resources are also challenges, with 24% of small businesses saying they don’t have a dedicated resource to chase payments and 13% saying they don’t have time.
There is no place for bias in business – all entrepreneurs should be free to pursue their ambitions without suffering the consequences of these cultural barriers that are encountered far too often – regardless of gender.
Now is the time to disrupt and challenge these harmful stereotypes and create a force for good, making sure that small businesses – the engine room of all economies – are paid what they are duly owed for the services they deliver to our economy.
#RiseToTheChallenge Now By Visiting The SleepOut™ Movement
The SleepOut™ Movement was born out of a desire to address homelessness as a threat to human dignity and the realisation of fundamental human rights. The SleepOut™ Movement is underpinned by the philosophies of Social Innovation and Engaging Business ‘As A Force for Change’.
Primary Beneficiaries appointed by The CEO Sleepout Trust™ for 2018 are Liliesleaf Farm and Museum and The Qunu Food Security Project. These Primary Beneficiaries will be awarded a portion of funds raised from a series of The SleepOut™ Movement Events taking place during July this year honouring the 100th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s birthday. Donations by the Trust to Primary Beneficiaries from previous years’ events amounted to an impressive R38-Million.
“Action without vision is only passing time, vision without action is merely day dreaming, but vision with action can change the world!”, Nelson Mandela.
The SleepOut™ Movement brings together Businesses and Influencers to purposely and effectively address the Five Pillars that alleviate homelessness: Shelter, Nutrition, Healthcare, Education, and Community. Curated by social enterprise The Philanthropic Collection, whose mission is Creating Conscious Capital, The SleepOut™ Movement aims to spearhead innovation in philanthropy by moving beyond current practices and beliefs, employing business strategies to do good for others.
The SleepOut™ Movement’s mission in 2018 is embodied by its Special Chapters, The Nelson Mandela CEO SleepOut™ – Liliesleaf Edition and The Nelson Mandela Legacy SleepOut™ – Robben Island Edition.
On Wednesday 11 July 2018, The Nelson Mandela CEO SleepOut™ – Liliesleaf Edition, aims to host 200 CEOs (each with four distinguished guests whom embody Madiba’s leadership and humanitarian qualities) as they #RiseToTheChallenge, spending a winter’s night at the iconic Liliesleaf Farm and Museum in Rivonia, Johannesburg. In addition, an auction will be opened to participating CEO’s for Madiba’s outside bedroom at Liliesleaf where he, Madiba, spent countless hours writing, reading and reflecting. Opening bids start at R250 000.00 with an overall goal of raising R30-Million.
On Wednesday 18 July 2018 and what would have been Madiba’s 100th birthday, 67 Global Influencers, Business leaders and Celebrities will spend the night on Robben Island, inside the maximum-security prison and courtyard where Mandela spent 18 years. On this same night, an auction will be held for the highest bidder commencing at $250 00.00 to sleep inside Cell Number 7 – Madiba’s home during his imprisonment. The aim is to raise $6,7 million through our 67 Participants at a Pledge of $100,000.00 each.
As a Primary Beneficiary focused on Community Upliftment, Education and Nutrition, the Qunu Food Security Project is operated by Dr. Brylyne Chitsunge, Pan African Ambassador for Food Security, who stated, “Through the funds generated as a Primary Beneficiary of The SleepOut™ Movement our plan is to develop a platform for Agricultural Stakeholders to work with 250 members of the Qunu community on Mandela’s farm ensuring the development of agriculture and commercial farming within More/….2
South Africa. The funds received will determine how many farmers are trained, the amount of product supplied and the number of bursaries that can be awarded to Scholars wanting to study Agriculture”.
The second of the 2 Primary Beneficiaries is Liliesleaf Farm & Museum, once the nerve centre of the liberation movement and a place of refuge for its leaders, and is today one of South Africa’s foremost, award-winning heritage sites, where the journey to democracy in South Africa is honoured.
Recognised as one of South Africa’s leading heritage sites, Liliesleaf opened to the public in June 2008 and has since attracted thousands of local and international visitors, eager to understand and engage with a pivotal period in South Africa’s liberation struggle. Sir Nicolas Wolpe, CEO of Liliesleaf Trust, states, “We are honoured to have not only been chosen as the venue for The CEO SleepOut™ but also as one of the Primary Beneficiaries of The SleepOut™ Movement enabling us to continue our work in preserving our heritage as an important symbolic presence of our country’s struggle and through our educational programmes we continue to inspire younger audiences to face the challenges of today”.
In addition to the Primary Beneficiaries The SleepOut™ Movement benefits a number of Secondary as well as Satellite Beneficiaries, with the funds raised through the 2 auctions taking place at Liliesleaf and on Robben Island benefitting the Prison-to-College Pipeline SA developed through a partnership between Stellenbosch University and the South African Department of Correctional Services & Western Cape Community Organisations aimed at integrating them back into their communities.
#RiseToTheChallenge now by visiting The SleepOut™ Movement – https://theceosleepoutza.co.za
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