Academic journal article Journal of International Women's Studies

Women Entrepreneurship in Kwazulu-Natal: A Critical Review of Government Intervention Politics and Programs

Academic journal article Journal of International Women's Studies

Women Entrepreneurship in Kwazulu-Natal: A Critical Review of Government Intervention Politics and Programs

Article excerpt

Introduction

The recent global recession and persistent economic instability have compelled many countries to drive towards entrepreneurship for sustainable development. According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) (2012), entrepreneurship which is the act of being an entrepreneur, implies the capacity and willingness to conceptualize, undertake, organize, and manage productive new ventures, accepting all attendant risks and seeking profit as a reward. Increasingly, various countries are adopting policy agenda that address the need to create new firms and employ innovative ideas towards achieving various developmental goals. The creation of new business entities (entrepreneurship) not only generates value added products, but also contributes to fiscal revenues, employment, and innovation. It is also an essential ingredient for the development of a vibrant small and medium-sized business sector (UNCTAD, 2012). Entrepreneurship is represented in different forms such as: small and medium sized enterprises (SME); small, medium and micro-sized enterprises (SMME); or Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME).

In this paper, SME and SMME will be used interchangeably. Various studies have documented the role of SME's in economic development. Small businesses contribute immensely to specific sustainable development objectives such as the employment of women, young people and disadvantaged groups. In addition, growth-oriented entrepreneurs contribute to structural transformation, building new industries, economic growth and poverty reduction (UNCTAD, 2012). In South Africa, SMMEs contribute about 36% of South Africa's gross domestic product, and account for 60% of all employment and 65% of all new jobs created (Parliamentary Monitoring Group (PMG), 2012). According to the National Development Plan, it has been forecast that 90% of all new jobs will come from SMMEs by the year 2030 (National Planning Commission (NPC), 2012). As such, SMMEs have been identified as key drivers of inclusive economic growth and development, employment creation, income generation, and output growth (The Banking Association of South Africa (TBASA), 2018; Newsline, 2012; Naude, 2011; NPC, 2011; Nieman and Nieuwenhuizen 2009). At the provincial level, SMMEs contribute 42% to the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) provincial gross domestic product (Bureau for Economic Research (BER), 2016). The informal sector in KZN, which is mostly dominated by women, contributes 12% of the province's gross domestic product (Department of Economic Development and Tourism (DEDT), 2010). Although SMMEs account for 40% of all businesses in South Africa, females own only 8% of the businesses (Business Report, 2017; Knowledge Library, 2014).

Given this background, South Africa's post-apartheid policies on SMMEs include: White Paper on the Development and Promotion of SMMEs; National SMMEs Act 102 of 1996; National SMMEs Amendment Bill 2003; National SMMEs Amendment Act 29 of 2004; Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa (ASGISA); and the New Growth Strategy (2010). These policies, strategies and programmes supporting SMMEs are often evident in a range of operational activities such as: skills development and training, financial assistance, advisory services, business networking, SMME research, Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) development, mentorship, marketing, and capacity building. Often well-articulated, they are managed at the national, provincial, and local government levels as well as private sectors.

The policies, strategies and programs notwithstanding, women entrepreneurs still face unending challenges in KwaZulu-Natal. Against this background, this paper examines the various interventions geared towards creating an enabling business environment for the empowerment of women entrepreneurs in KwaZulu-Natal province and to ensure economic freedom, poverty alleviation, employment creation, and equity. …

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