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SMMEs, or small medium and micro enterprises are an incredibly important sector of South Africa’s economy; which is why we love them. Sadly, SMMEs remain underestimated and largely a misunderstood contributor to our GDP. Those in the know however see their value – it extends beyond the economy and it bleeds into our everyday lives. There are numerous reasons for this, lest we forget let us discuss why South Africa loves SMMEs and should continue to do so.

SMME Adaptability

With every twist, turn and tumble the economy takes, the more resilient SMMEs become. There’s no doubt that many many fail each year, but those which don’t close their doors continue to adapt to the ever-changing South African economy and in turn, the global economy. Finding new faster and more economical ways to remain profitable are all in a days work when you are the owner of an SMME. New tax laws, they adapt; new BEE regulations, they adapt; new industry policies, they adapt. There is no try, there is only do. And there is always more than one solution to a problem.

SMME Agility

Along with adaptability, an SMME has to be able to implement changes with speed and vigour. With each passing moment, your industry is changing, you can choose to ignore it or you can roll with it. One of the best ways to ensure agility; always say yes. Your client’s needs are always changing and you don’t have to time to ponder whether or not you can pull off whatever it is they are asking for, you do not have the luxury of saying no – the answer is yes, yes and yes again. Of course, don’t arrogantly assume that your nimble little dev shop can adequately landscape your client’s garden but there are ways and means to forge ahead. Learn new tech stacks, hire a consultant, engage with new suppliers and open your business up to new possibilities and avenues.

SMME Innovation

Moving on from agility, is the ability to innovate. SMMEs rarely have the resources to do things in what may be generally accepted as the ‘right’ way. So they have to improvise and in doing so they not only adapt but also innovate. When things are slow, you need a new service, new product and a new method. Innovation is the cornerstone of survival, without it, SMMEs don’t have the edge required to stand up against larger and more seemingly stable competitors. SMMEs are bringing their A-game. In the event of failure, at least something can be learnt.

Growing Communities Through SMMEs

This aspect should probaby be on the top of the list of why South Africa loves SMMEs. We often concentrate on those who have the means, education and confidence to start a business but rarely consider those who benefit from SMMEs. In reality it’s the SMMEs that grow new staff and afford them the ability to maintain their households and provide for their families. In a tough economic climate we continue to observe a shrinking middle class but SMMEs are critical in alleviating poverty especially in the informal sector and giving future generations a better chance at life.

Sustainable Business Models

We have long since realised that handing over money to underprivileged communities may not always cut to the root of the problem – of course all charities are not created equal but the end goal these days is rather that of sustainability. People need more, they need education, something to do with their time and something to be proud of. Strong SMMEs can help provide that. With the right combination of innovation, adaptability and agility, even micro enterprises are able to form sustainable business models which will ultimately positively impact the communities in which they themselves thrive.

The Sky is the Limit

Okay, okay, okay; with a healthy dose of experience and critical thinking we have come to know that not everyone is the next Elon Musk or Bill Gates but where there is the ambition to succeed there is a far better chance of success. Perhaps the red tape will get in the way but then again maybe it won’t. If you are an aspiring business owner you can take comfort in the fact that every business started small. You have the chance to break that ceiling and reach for the stars.

All in all, this is why South Africa loves SMMEs. Even those who have failed have learnt something along the way and are able to try again with the knowledge of how it can be done better. They eventually succeed even if it’s not the next Facebook, your dev shop matters and South Africa needs you. Forge your way through the obstacles and join the ranks of the likes of Trump… just kidding; he had a rich dad to fall back on.