One of the greatest impediments to economic growth and job creation in South Africa is the failure of the government to take the small business sector seriously, says the CEO of the Afrikaanse Handelsinstituut, Ernest Messina. The government is out of sync with the global trend that sees SMEs as a major engine of economic growth and jobs, he says. The once all-white Afrikaans business chamber, which boasts corporate giant Sanlam among its members, committed itself at its conference in Durban last week to fighting for small and medium-size enterprises. Although the Department of Small Business Development and ANC treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize, who gave the keynote address, make the right noises, Messina says it has been all talk but little action. "There is much talk about the sector but not enough tangible support from government to suggest that SMEs are being taken seriously." When the government talks about its relationship with business it means big business, he says. "We're say...

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