Picture: 123RF/LIGHTWISE
Picture: 123RF/LIGHTWISE

It is already clear that small, micro and medium business enterprises (SMMEs) will find it harder to handle the stresses and strains of the Covid-19 pandemic than larger organisations.

Equally obvious is that this sector of the economy will be crucial in reviving economic activity when the pandemic subsides, as it surely will.

Perhaps now would be a good time for us to be thinking about what resources can be made available to ensure the small business sector survives and comes back even stronger in future. Developed countries have huge resources for programmes such as these, but a developing country such as SA might find it more difficult to direct resources in this direction.

What money can be prudently made available should target the SMME sector as a priority, but financial support is not the only answer. The Covid-19 challenge may well present us with an opportunity to lower the cost of doing business by removing regulatory red tape.

Surveys show that 40% of the barriers to small business growth is made up of government regulations. Bringing this down by speeding up and simplifying permit applications and registrations should be as important as protecting public health.

What has been encouraging about the response to Covid-19 is the extent to which all sectors of society have been working together against this common enemy. As a chamber, we hope this change in mindset will result in the government working more closely with the private sector in simplifying the regulatory framework and reducing the cost of doing business.

What is already an emergency situation for SMMEs is being made worse by Covid-19. This challenge offers an all-round opportunity to cut red tape to the bone.

Geoff Jacobs
Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry

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