International small business congress kicks off in South Africa

Source:Xinhua Published: 2012-9-17 9:33:51

The International Small Business Congress (ISBC) was opened here on Sunday by South African Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies who challenged global economies to prioritize the development of small enterprises as part of the solution to the world's economic slowing down.

The four-day congress was attended by government representatives, policy makers, advocates for small businesses, academics and business owners from all over the world. ISBC was formed in 1974 to provide an international forum for discussion of public policy and practices to promote small businesses domestically and in a global context.

"Small enterprises do not only provide economic opportunities for the runners and operators of those small and medium enterprises, but also many of the new jobs that are created in expanding economies come from small enterprises," Rob Davies said.

He lauded the ISBC for holding the congress in Africa, saying they have made the right choice.

"New forces of dynamism have emerged in the world economy and the center of gravity is shifting from the North and the West to the South and the East," he said, adding "the important good news is that the African continent is very much part of the dynamic processes which are emerging in the world economy."

The minister said there is a general consensus that Africa is the next growth frontier after Asia.

The minister said many African governments and business leaders are beginning to move towards a growth path that is driven by productive sectors in order to industrialize the African continent.

He urged African countries to prioritize sustainable infrastructure development that will drive successful regional integration programs.

The minister said if this happens, "we are going to see a very significant growth of small enterprises and also a much stronger symbiotic relationship between big companies and small supplier operations based on small enterprises."

The government official also highlighted the bold steps being taken by South Africa to promote the development and expansion of small businesses.

In addition to the creation of the Small Enterprise Finance Agency to help small businesses access government services, he said the government has also launched incubation programs to help small businesses stand on their own.

"We have set ourselves a target of rolling out 250 of these incubators designed to support and encourage the development of small entrepreneurs by the year 2020," the minister said.

Under this program, big businesses are called upon to nurture small businesses with the government providing 60 percent of the requirements of the small businesses being incubated.

ISBC President Catherine Swift called on governments to spend more on small business enterprises in order to deal with the high unemployment levels.

She urged participants at the congress to come up with practical ideas which they can apply in their economies.

"The small businesses can play a crucial role in the economic and social development everywhere in the world," she said.

The congress has given small entrepreneurs an opportunity to exhibit some of their products to the international delegates.

Deputy President of the Black Business Council in South Africa Lawrence Mavundla also hailed the summit for recognizing the social value played by small businesses in the global economy.

"By creating opportunities for economic participation for large numbers of individuals, either as business owners or employees, small businesses play a central role in driving economic transformation," Mavundla said.

Posted in: Africa

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