Monday, June 4, 2012

SMEs - a South African SME wish list

SMEs in South Africa are expected to deliver a lot by government. This blog looks at what SMEs would like, and in the next blog I will look at what SMEs need to do to make it work. SMEs would like to see a simple national licencing system. There would be no fees. There would simply be a national database of businesses. You can link into a licencing website and register yourself and print out your licence. Total time 5 minutes. If you have no Internet access, you can go to any government office any where and they will register you and print out a licence. Why? Well then we can find out how many other signwriters there in in the area. It would help with planning by government. It would help entrepreneurs to identify opportunities. It would stop over-trading within certain sectors. There would be a single registration at SARS or CIPRO which would get your business registered for everything related to government. Total time 5 minutes and print our all your own registrations, including SARS, SDL, UIF, PAYE, VAT, Exporter, Importer and anything else we need to register for. Make the statistics on imports available on a website that a normal human being can operate. It would allow for a reduction in the trade deficit as entrepreneurs identified manufacturing opportunities by being able to see the products being imported and at what price. You can do this in the USA, by port and airport. Training and mentorship coupons should be available on registering of a business. You print them out and take them to a service provider OF YOUR CHOICE to redeem them. Yes there will be people who abuse the system. But you only ever get one set of coupons linked to your ID, so it does not matter how many businesses you establish. A whole lot more people will take advantage than abuse the system. It will also get rid of institutions that add little to no value now, and that simply consume money without any value add such as the NYDA, to name but one of many more. It will be a whole lot cheaper and will have a greater efficacy. I get so many black entrepreneurs who refuse to go to government offices because of the poor quality of service and the poor customer service ethic. With time, by analysing the trainers and mentors who are redeeming their vouchers, government will quickly be able to identify the good ones and dicey ones. Let SARS do the redemption and ensure payment is done within 7 days, so that they have no reason to cheat government. A national SME chamber. Government needs to see this SME chamber established. They must fund it for 5 years to get if off the ground. BUSA, SACCI, AHI and all the others have no real SME focus. No matter what they claim. Get a few people together and thrash out a starting point, then let it happen. It is important. Make it clear that this is the last chance for SMEs to do their own thing. Kick start the SME Council which was established in law to advise the President. For once leave out the politics and the politically aligned academics. Bring on board strong SME owners, strong SME academics, outspoken people on the SME topic. Get rid of political yes men who add no value, and get this committee up and running properly for once and for all. There is a reason we are making no progress in matters entrepreneurial. A key component of this committee must be advising the President on matters relating to entrepreneurial education, where the country is so bad that it is scary. I know just the man to run this successfully, and no it is not me, nor is it any of the other people currently involved in chambers of any kind. Finally, take every law, and do a complete impact assessment on it, purely in the context of the impact on SMEs. Unintentional consequences of many South African laws have to be sorted out as a matter of urgency. A long list of these issues is already available.