SMEs not the magic “Open Sesame” that unlocks growth & jobs (1)

Within a week of his inauguration as Finance Minister, Tito Mboweni muttered the magical “Open $e$ame” words that, according to legend, will reveal the treasures of economic growth, job-creation and the eradication of inequality.

open-sesame-your-uservame-o-password-are-ectu-open-segame-26200568Addressing the Association of Black Securities and Investment Professionals, Mboweni said “to get the economy performing, government needed to create an environment which allowed small and medium enterprises to operate at an optimum level.

“We must think in particular how to support small and medium enterprises. In Germany the economy is driven by the hidden champions that are small and medium enterprises,” Mboweni said.

Continue reading “SMEs not the magic “Open Sesame” that unlocks growth & jobs (1)”

Creating jobs and reducing poverty: why not enable the informal sector properly?

Author: Frederick Fourie

President Cyril Ramaphosa aims to set the country on a new path of growth, employment and transformation. Key to this are action plans for employment creation, to be deliberated at a jobs summit.

The South African Informal Sector: Providing jobs, reducing povertyA new edited volume, published by HSRC Press, flags the importance of explicitly addressing the informal sector in such initiatives, given the key role it plays in providing paid employment and reducing poverty. The book is based on research done in the Research Project for Employment, Income Distribution and Inclusive Growth (REDI3x3).

This research shows unambiguously that the informal sector is an important source of employment (and of paid employment), with a growing propensity to employ. Regrettably, for many decades the sector has remained forgotten or, at best, in the margins of economic analysis and policy consciousness. Many policy makers appear to group it together with formal SMMEs. Such an approach risks missing key elements of the ‘forgotten’ world of informal enterprises – their potential, the constraints they face, their particular vulnerability, and the policy support they need to be viable and self-standing.

How many jobs are created in the informal sector?

Continue reading “Creating jobs and reducing poverty: why not enable the informal sector properly?”

Enterprise policies as untested as the practice of bloodletting: no wonder they fail (1)

More than 3000 years the practice of bloodletting was applied to cure a range of illnesses: intense headaches, constipation, abdominal pain, boils or fever… It was administered by barbers (they had sharp blades) and later by qualified doctors. Some of the famous who received this treatment were Marie Antoinette (when giving birth in 1778 to her daughter Marie-Therese) and George Washington in 1799 on the day of his death when doctors drew about 40% of his blood in an attempt to cure him from a severe throat infection. In Washington’s case, the bloodletting did not cure him and one can only wonder to which extent it had contributed to his death. In 1793 acute bloodletting by guillotine definitely caused the demise of Marie Antoinette.

Why did the bloodletting practice with its origins in ancient Egypt continue until a century ago as an esteemed medical practice? Two reasons:

  • The existing paradigm considered bloodletting successful, elevating it to the realm beyond questioning or doubt. It was practised by all the trained practitioners. It was therefore not questioned. Respect for specialist insistence on accepted practice re-enforces paradigmatic reign. Even after the description of the circulatory system by William Harvey in 1628 it took three centuries before the practice of bloodletting was largely abandoned as an unproven cure. One of the most striking examples of this blind acceptance of so-called “expert opinion” is the 1500 years that Greek physician Galen’s doctrines were revered. Galen said of one of his cures: “All who drink of this remedy recover in a short time, except those whom it doesn’t help who all die. It is obvious that it fails only in incurable cases.

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Government’s attempts to promote business formation as effective as a rain dance…

it would help more to combat crime effectively

Is the blind leading the blind when it comes to the promotion of black businesses? This question in my previous blog apparently ruffled a few feathers. Let us therefore compare the positive impact of Government strategies to stimulate business formation and the negative impact on business formation by Government’s failures in core governmental functions. Continue reading “Government’s attempts to promote business formation as effective as a rain dance…”

If you thought the S&P and Fitch downgrades scare investors away… Government’s security & protection deficit prevents a million local would-be entrepreneurs from investing

Whilst the downgrading of investor status by Standard & Poor and Fitch already drives foreign investment away from South Africa with capital flight from the JSE, at the local front ineffective crime prevention by the Government is one of the largest disincentives for enterprise investment:  a million people would have considered home-based businesses were it not for criminality. Continue reading “If you thought the S&P and Fitch downgrades scare investors away… Government’s security & protection deficit prevents a million local would-be entrepreneurs from investing”

Managing the interface between the formal & informal sectors

Informal traders SBIncreasing the number of micro and informal businesses (in particular survivalists, street vendors, hawkers and spaza shops) is a yard stick by which the progress of the Department of Small Business Development is measured. That is clear from the 2016 report of the Parliamentary Committee on Small Business Development (See https://pmg.org.za/committee-meeting/22352/ ). Whilst supporting the poor is laudable, any strategy that wants to regenerate economic growth has to seriously reconsider this approach. Continue reading “Managing the interface between the formal & informal sectors”