Smallholder farmers are at the heart of South Africa’s solution to reducing unemployment and poverty and ensuring food security.
The country’s unemployment rate is nearing 30% – and a solution is greatly needed.
It has always been argued that investments in small businesses will solve the country’s unemployment problems.
This then leaves the country with no choice but to place a much more concerted effort on emerging farmers.
Part of the challenges faced by emerging farmers is access to finance that comes with proper development and training to make them commercially viable.
Earlier this year, in his keynote address at the launch of Business Leadership South Africa Connect and the SA SME Fund CEO Circle, President Cyril Ramaphosa acknowledged that SMEs and not mega factories and mining houses, would create jobs in the future.
Business Leadership South Africa Connect is an online trading platform which will link registered small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) access to supply chain opportunities of large South African corporations that have an integrated global footprint while the SA SME Fund CEO Circle, was aimed at financing and scaling up black SMMEs.
The online portal will promote supplier diversity and the inclusion of black suppliers in the value chain.
Ramaphosa added that government had already started its support programmes for SMEs through initiatives such as the black industrialists programme.
He said the BLSA initiatives would play an important role as incubation hub that would enable environments for small businesses to flourish.
“That’s the right approach to growing black owned businesses, as well as a number of young white South Africans who also need to be supported.”
Ramaphosa said the government would also focus on women-led businesses, and the growth of township and rural economies “so that they are no longer dormitories” for labour, but become areas where business was conducted.
At the same event, BLSA chief executive Bonang Mohale said the country lagged way behind its BRICS counterparts on investments in small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
Mohale said that local SMEs only created 15percent of new jobs, while those in Brazil, Russia, India and China accounted for 80percent of new jobs.
He said that “If this is not arrested it might lead to social instability. We’ve got to invest in SMEs and black executives so that the economy is broadly reflective of the demographics.
“As BLSA, we are moving forward, we will be working with all social partners. If we mess this one up, we will just be another failed African country.”
Mohale added that the country needed to fix the economic structure as only 20percent of black people owned the JSE 25 years into democracy with direct ownership accounting for about 3percent.
Do you think this intervention will create an enabling environment for smallholder farmers to proper?