The government reported last month that the official unemployment rate had jumped to 26.5% — a staggering figure which excludes those no longer looking for jobs. When taking defeated work seekers into account, the unemployment figure rises to 35.6%. The effect of these grim statistics is felt by all South Africans through price hikes, crime, disease, rising taxes, decaying infrastructure and a host of other social ills. While big businesses and large corporations remain a significant source of employment, the largest job creators across the world have always been small, medium and micro-enterprises (SMMEs). Yet the SME Growth index reveals that, contrary to the global trend, smaller companies in SA are showing stagnation in turnover and employment growth. Township enterprises have been particularly hard-hit, due not only to lower economic activity and purchasing power in these areas, but also to deficiencies in skills. Within some sectors, these skill deficits have hindered the grow...

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