Annual Forum Papers

This edition of The Real Economy Bulletin is the second edition of the State of Small Business published by TIPS. It includes a review of trends in small business according to national data looking at small business by the numbers; how many small businesses are there?; employment and earnings; contribution to the GDP; small business by sector; profitability and earnings; assets and liabilities; education levels; ownership by race and gender; and the geography of small business.

The two briefing notes look at learnings from efforts to support small business in South Africa from Kate Philip’s new book, Markets on the Margins, and a summary of the main initiatives for small business in the Job Summit Framework Agreement.

Read online:

Full Bulletin: The State of Small Business in South Africa

Briefing Note: Markets on the margin: Lessons for today

Briefing Note: Small business in the Job Summit

Or download copies. 

Business Day - 26 September 2017 by Neva Makgetla (TIPS Senior Economist)

Read online at Business Day

Or read here as a PDF


Letter in Business Day - 4 October 2017: Help start-up investors

Read online at Business Day

Published in TIPS In the News

One of the major international economic developments in recent years has been the growth in regional trade agreements (RTAs). However, with the exception of a few, there are criticisms that RTAs have not yielded the expected benefits. The focus of this paper is to determine the impact of engaging in regional initiatives for two groupings comprising of developing and least developed countries from two different continents, namely MERCOSUR and SADC. 

This research report was produced under the TIPS small grant scheme.

About the author

Anaïs Dangeot holds a First Class in her undergraduate studies in Banking and Finance at the University of Mauritius. She has recently completed her Masters in Social Protection Financing at the University of Mauritius with a distinction. During her Master's tenure, Anais has participated in a joint research project between the University of Mauritius and the University of Botswana. Miss Dangeot has also been working with the Economic Policy Research Institute (EPRI), in Cape Town. Finally, her research interests centres on areas which include public policy, poverty, deprivation analysis and broader social development issues. 

  • Year 2014
  • Organisation TIPS
  • Publication Author(s) Anaïs Dangeot
  • Countries and Regions Mercosur (Common Market of the South), Southern African Development Community (SADC)

This paper looks at the strengths and weaknesses of current methodologies in capturing the kinds of local economic development impacts from the CWP. It aims to fill the gap of methodologies available for measuring economic multipliers in a local economy. (The Employment Promotion Programme (EPP) Research)

  • Year 2013
  • Organisation TIPS
  • Publication Author(s) Evans Chinembiri; Mbofholowo Tsedu
  • Countries and Regions South Africa

For South Africa, the promotion of small businesses remains key to creating jobs and a more equitable economy. Evidence from Chile and Malaysia – both countries with similar emerging economies as South Africa – reveals that by partnering to provide finance and business support, the government and the private sector can boost support to small businesses. This report builds on key findings by this author in other emerging countries in a 2011 TIPS report, by the same author, titled “How South Africa can boost support to SMEs: Lessons from Brazil and India”.

Mail & Guardian - Learning from Chile and Malaysia

  • Year 2012
  • Organisation TIPS
  • Publication Author(s) Stephen Timm

Patrick Sathorar acts as a marketing consultant for a group of 25-30 HIV-positive women in Nyanga, Cape Town. They produce textile and beaded products and Patrick facilitates their participation in the formal market by sourcing and negotiating contracts for them. Patrick’s role comprises the following: first, he meets with a client (typically a conference organiser) to discuss the items required (such as beaded lanyards or conference bags) and to negotiate the quantity. Then Patrick sources the raw materials. Often he needs to source fabric from various and geographically dispersed suppliers. Thereafter, Patrick commissions a designer to make up a sample, which is costed and presented to the client. If the client is satisfied, the parties negotiate terms of the contract, including the price per item.

If the client rejects aspects of the design, it is back to the drawing board for Patrick and his producers, who must produce new samples. Often, conference organisers require several samples to send to clients overseas. The negotiation process can last up to three months. Once the parties have contracted, the producers learn to reproduce the sample. Patrick is responsible for quality control; the women for the packaging; and Patrick for delivery of the products to the client. In between, Patrick sources contracts from small retailers.

Patrick generates contracts that produce a turnover of approximately R40 000 per month and each woman earns between R1 000 and R2 000, depending on how much work is available, and how many units she has made. Although this amount does not represent a decent wage, it does make a critical contribution to the women’s livelihoods. It also fulfils another important social goal – that is, to facilitate their economic agency. Without Patrick’s intermediary role, these women, who are functionally illiterate, have a poor command of English, have no formal sector experience and limited numeracy, and would be unable to manage the complex communications and networking necessary to sell products to the formal economy. They would be unable to do this because they do not have the skill set necessary to manage the negotiation process, and because they do not have the necessary resources - such as transport, design expertise, or the ability to manage bulk orders.

  • Year 2011
  • Organisation TIPS
  • Publication Author(s) Marlese von Broembsen
  • Countries and Regions South Africa

Improving small, marginalised producers access to modern markets has increasingly been accepted as an important element in South African policy debates on improving the employment, income and livelihood opportunities for such producers. The importance of market access arises because in the absence of such access, these producers are restricted to servicing proximate, local community markets which are traditionally thin and do not support: increased output volumes, product diversification and value addition, increased employment, increased income generation or increased returns. To date programming in this field has been characterised by two traits. First the majority of programmes have been project based, unsustainable, un-scalable, un-replicable and have impacted a limited number of direct beneficiaries. This project based approach has resulted in market based employment creating programming achieving substantially less penetration, coverage and success than social delivery programming. Second, the majority of programming has largely bought into the orthodox economic view that the “fault” for market exclusion lies largely with producers – their personal characteristics, production methods and location – resulting in a supply side dominated intervention approach. By this logic if small producers improve the quality and consistency of their production then they will almost certainly be included in modern markets. This chapter argues that even if supply constraints are fully relieved, the modus operandi of lead firms (which dominate the South African economy), create a sufficiently hostile and infertile environment, that even if market access can be achieved, the threat of adverse inclusion remains high – making the idea of improving livelihood and employment opportunities by linking small marginalised producers to modern markets an extremely difficult task. Despite these challenges, the chapter offers three system based policy options to address the issues of small producer exclusion, as well as, briefly touching on the idea that alternatives to linkage strategies need to be considered.

The research is based on value chain analysis as it is viewed as the most powerful and relevant tool in understanding the drivers behind the erection and administration of the barriers to entry which prevent small, marginalised producers from accessing modern markets. Understanding market power and governance and the exercise of this power allows economists to understand who the gatekeepers of value chains are, why and how they erect barriers to entry, how they influence the distribution of incomes and rents along a chain and how supply criteria are endogenised into chains via product and process upgrading and critical success factors. As such understanding lead firm behaviour in modern markets not only frames the opportunities and risks facing linkage programme initiatives, but it assists in designing interventions which are realistic and deal with the realities of how lead firms behave and organise their productive networks.

Although traditional value chain analysis is empirically driven and highly specific in terms of product or sector, this chapter discusses generic value chain characteristics and attributes, as a survey of hundreds of case studies across countries, sectors and products revealed that the same constraints arise consistently in the interaction between small producers and lead firm value chains (Lowitt, 2009)

  • Year 2011
  • Organisation TIPS
  • Publication Author(s) Sandy Lowitt
  • Countries and Regions South Africa

In its efforts to craft a new economic growth path and assist small businesses, South Africa could do well to look to emerging economies such as Brazil and India, which have attracted much attention in their recent efforts to create greater and more equitable economic growth. The aim of this study is to inform policymakers and government on key learnings from fellow emerging nations India and Brazil when it comes to improving business support, market access and access to finance for small businesses. To date there has been no reported studies on small business schemes in India and Brazil. This study aims to bring to light what may possibly be the best emerging countries against which South Africa can compare itself to.

The focus of the report is on those business owners in the formal sector starting out as well as those that employ between 10 and 50 employees. The focus is defined by the fact that these have been shown to make the most significant contribution to employment.

  • Year 2011
  • Organisation TIPS
  • Publication Author(s) Stephen Timm

Closing Plenary 

  • Year 2010
  • Organisation World Bank
  • Publication Author(s) Sergio Schmukler
  • Countries and Regions South Africa

Session 6B: Taxation and Trade Quotas

  • Year 2010
  • Organisation AMERU, University of the Witwatersrand
  • Publication Author(s) Jonathan Friedland; Neil Rankin
  • Countries and Regions South Africa

Street trading is the most common type of informal self-employment activity in South Africa. Traders sell a range of products such as fruits and vegetables, cooked food, new and used clothing, cosmetics, footwear, dvds, “public” telephone services and mobile phone accessories. Most traders operate from stalls or tables in market areas or on sidewalks. Some of these traders are licensed and rent their business space from the municipality.

The aim of this project is to understand whether the macroeconomic environment and other barriers to entry into the informal street trading sector offer insight into the relatively small size of the South African informal economy. The paper explores macroeconomic linkages and other barriers that traders encounter when entering street trading and while sustaining their businesses. The motivation for this research question is the paradox of South Africa's very high rate of open unemployment, estimated to be at least 40 percent using a broad measure (Cichello et al. 2006), but low level of participation in the informal economy. Because street trading is thought to be among the sectors in the informal economy with the lowest barriers to entry, identifying the barriers that traders do confront may offer some clues to the reasons so many of the unemployed do not enter trading.

The paper is divided into seven sections. The first provides an overview of the South African informal economy and unemployment. The second section contains an assessment of statistics on street trading in South Africa and the role of trading in the South African economy. Section three describes the fieldwork that was conducted to gather information about the barriers that traders confront. Section four explores linkages between the formal and informal economies and suggests that rather than operating as distinct “sectors,” there are concrete ways that they are tied together and mutually reliant. Section five offers a comprehensive analysis of trader-identified barriers to starting and maintaining their business. The sixth section connects macroeconomic policies to traders' experiences. The report concludes with a brief summary of the report and policy implications.

  • Year 2009
  • Organisation TIPS
  • Publication Author(s) The Corporate Strategy and Industrial Development Research Programme (CSID); School of Economics and Business Sciences, University of Witwatersrand
  • Countries and Regions South Africa

Within the ambit of the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative of South Africa, government is leading a process to define a Second Economy Strategy. One of the opportunities that has been identified is the agricultural sector, in particular fostering a larger number of smallholder agriculturalists. The study seeks to identify the key elements of an implementable programme to support the smallholder sector. The core of the exercise entailed identifying successful South African smallholders active in different settings, and examining the factors that contribute to their success, whether these are personal, contextual, institutional, etc. Although the study was not designed as an evaluation of interventions as such, in the process of conducting the smallholder case studies (and in combination with an extensive literature review), the efficacy and relevance of different intervention and support strategies also came into focus.

For purposes of the study, we assumed a broad definition of agricultural smallholders, including those who operate independently, those who farm in groups, those for whom farming is mainly for subsistence purposes and those whose orientation is mainly or purely commercial. (We therefore employ the flawed but useful distinction between ‘subsistence’ and ‘commercial’ smallholders.)

Ultimately, we conceptualise ‘supporting the smallholder sector’ as consisting of four distinct strands, namely the prospects and measures for:

  • improving the performance of subsistenceoriented smallholders;
  • encouraging/enabling smallholders who are currently subsistence-oriented to benefit from a more commercial orientation;
  • improving the performance of commercially oriented smallholders; and
  • increasing the participation in smallholder agriculture among those (especially rural dwellers) who do not practise agriculture.

  • Year 2009
  • Organisation PLAAS
  • Publication Author(s) Michael Aliber; Mompati Baiphethi; Rick de Satge; Jonathan Denison; Tim Hart; Peter Jacobs and Wim van Averbeke; with Rauri Alcock; Mike Antwi; Abenet Belete; Ben Cousins; Larry Field; Irvine Mariga; Patrick Masika; Simeon Materechera; David Mayson; Nomakhaya Monde and Barbara Tapela
  • Countries and Regions South Africa

TIPS was commissioned by FABCOS (The Foundation for African Business and Consumer Services) to undertake a study on the impact of fuel and food price increases on small business. As FABCOS has a large constituency of informal or previously informal businesses, a strong emphasis was placed on the impacts for informal businesses. Some key outcomes are highlighted below:

Fuel Prices

The main effects of high fuel prices can be observed within the macro-economic framework. The first impact reflects the role of transportation in determining the price of goods: South Africa is a large country, and highly dependent on the transportation of goods by road (given the currently very poor state of the rail network). Most micro enterprises are dependent on hired transport to fetch items from wholesalers and/or manufacturers. Although the cost of these services increases as the fuel price increases, there is good evidence to suggest that these prices are both downwardly "sticky" (i.e. that they do not go down when the petrol price declines) and that transport service providers take advantage of general perceptions about rapidly rising fuel prices to increase their margins. The result is that small business owners who are dependant on these forms of transport probably face disproportionate transport costs increases, compared to bigger businesses that control their own logistics. This reduces the competitiveness of the smaller businesses.

The second impact is through the regulatory response to inflation. Higher interest rates reduce the disposable income of consumers, by raising debt service costs. As consumers spend more of their disposable income on servicing debt, so they have less to spend on other items.

The third issue for small businesses arising from higher inflation is that, generally, they are not in a position either to negotiate price concessions from manufacturers or wholesalers or to pass inflationary costs on to their consumers. While it is, of course, true that lower consumer expenditure affects all business; small businesses are generally in a much weaker position to ride out periods of reduced consumer spending. The smaller the business, the more vulnerable it is to this.

To date, the ability of many small retail enterprises to survive has been based in large part on their proximity to their clients (convenience), and the (rising) cost of travelling to shop at a large retail centre. However, the official development policy of most Metros in South Africa is to encourage large retailers to penetrate enter the townships, and this is having a considerable impact on the ability of small traders to survive. These small businesses are not opposed to anti development in the townships per se, but they do feel a certain level of resentment towards economic planners who trumpet the necessity of encouraging small business development on the one hand, whilst but on the other hand encouraging development that puts those enterprises at considerable risk.

Food Prices

According to Statistics South Africa, food's weight in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) is just under 21%. As such, an increase in food prices will have an impact on general price levels. However, we should not confuse the official weighting of food in the CPI with the actual role of food in monthly household expenditure for many South Africans. Given that South Africa has one of the world's worst distributions of income, there is really no such thing as an "average" consumer. In general terms, the poorer a person, the greater the share of their income that they will spend on food, and the greater the impact on their disposable income of food price inflation that exceeds the rate at which their wages are increasing. Data indicate that the very poorest South Africans spend as much as 80% of their income on food.

Whilst general prices have increased steadily over the past five years, the data show that food inflation (CPI-F) generally increased faster than general inflation, but has done so in particular since the end of 2005. Except for the periods between August-October 2005 and the same period in 2006, food inflation has tended to be higher than the general price level (CPI) of all items. In particular, for the period between September 2007 and 2008, the gap between the two has been widening, implying that more price pressure is being observed in food than for other items.

Another key issue is that for the period between November 2005 and 2006, price increases in rural and urban areas were similar. However, since early 2007, rural prices have tended to grow faster than urban prices. The fact that rural populations spend roughly double (IES, 2006) on food compared to urban groups leaves rural populations at a disadvantage since generally have less disposable income than urban populations.

The two main impacts of rising food prices on micro enterprises are a direct impact (through the erosion of purchasing power of their clients) and an indirect impact (through the erosion of the businesses own purchasing power).

In terms of the direct impact on business through the erosion of their clients' purchasing power, the first point to be made is that the small enterprises that we are considering tend to have lower-income people as their main clients. When food prices are rising more rapidly than the "official" rate of inflation (which sets wage and social grant increases) then these people will have less non-food disposable income and may be forced into actually purchasing less food. Both of these are bad news for small business.

The indirect impact of rising food prices on small businesses comes via the reduction in the disposable income of the business owner. Most of the small businesses under consideration are owned by people who do not fall into the high-income category. Therefore, they tend to spend a relatively high portion of their income on food, and higher food prices mean less income available for other items. The reason why this is important is because most of these small businesses finance their expansion and cash flow requirements from their own savings, and are not able to source other types of finance. Therefore, a reduction in disposable income means less money is available for investing in the business or helping to ride out adverse business periods. This makes small businesses relatively more vulnerable than other type of businesses to adverse price changes.

  • Year 2008
  • Organisation TIPS
  • Countries and Regions South Africa
Published in Trade and Industry

This paper will review the attempts at fostering resource poor small-scale agricultural development in South Africa from 1994 to the present. Based on the lack of a concerted policy for support and development of this group of farmers and given the incomplete datasets about this group a number an attempt will be made to define them and their circumstances. By use of case material and observations over the past 15 years a number of suggestions will be illustrated for a way forward. The purpose of the suggestions is to illustrate why and how resource-poor farmers need to be placed more specifically on the agenda of government agricultural and poverty alleviation strategies. The primary focus will be on food security needs of this group and how this can be enhanced.

  • Year 2008
  • Organisation Senior Research Manager, Centre for Employment, Poverty and Growth, HSRC.
  • Publication Author(s) Tim Hart
  • Countries and Regions South Africa

The paper presents significant new insights for Policy Makers, Practitioners, Educators, and Researchers into the socio-economy of agglomerated SMEs in developing country context. Using mixed methods of inquiry and concurrent triangulation approach this paper profiles the socio-economy of the internationally competitive textile industry cluster of Faisalabad in Pakistan to establish the validity of the concept of clusters in the context of developing economies and seeks new insights into the phenomenon. The paper also investigates the impact of clustering on the performance, governance, organization and entrepreneurial management practices of the constituent SMEs. The methods employed for research include analysis of secondary data, survey of the textile firms and in-depth semi-structured interviews.

Key learning points of the research are:

1. Cost reductions and information spillovers facilitated by the community ties and the shared local identities were the dominant type of advantages for the agglomerated firms. They largely arose at the level of transactions in goods and services, and to a lesser extent in the transformation of inputs into output. Vertical cooperation, rather than horizontal, was mostly prevalent in the cluster.

2. In the emergence phase of the cluster factor (input) conditions were more dominant. After three decades of growth, however, extensive co-location of related and supporting industries became, and remains, the dominant factor in the success of the industry in the region.

3. The developing economy cluster lacked strong institutions and infrastructure. Selfreliance of the entrepreneurs and the collective action, however, mitigated the aspects of the lack of cluster specific public goods. The Government's initiative and development efforts were mostly passive but still the national industrial policies were instrumental in spurring explosive growth of the small weavers in the region.

4. The paper also provides new insights on the role of the traders in the functioning of the cluster. They helped the small enterprises to overcome the growth constraints and had supported them to compete in distant markets, nationally and abroad. The clustered SMEs are also different from non-clustered firms in terms of average size, governance, human resource practices, marketing efforts, financing, and operations management.

  • Year 2008
  • Organisation Lahore University of Management Sciences
  • Publication Author(s) Faheem ul Islam
  • Countries and Regions South Africa

The research process underpinning this article was focused on casting some light on factors influencing the way in which developing countries can enhance linkages between Transnational Corporation (TNC) Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) firms and domestic small and medium enterprises (SMEs). It sought to do this through identifying the major lessons from SME-TNC linkage programmes from three South African Development Community (SADC) case studies: Mozambique and the Mozal aluminium smelter; Lesotho and the clothing and textile investment related to the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA); and South Africa's experience with SME suppliers and Toyota. The process of securing developmental impacts from FDI for developing countries has been a considerable challenge for many countries and has become a greater imperative in a context of relative declines in official development assistance in the past decade. Other authors have explained how FDI can compensate for domestic savings shortfalls and reduce BOP imbalances. This study tries to explore some ways in which FDI can contribute to lasting structural change in developing country production and productivity dynamics.

  • Year 2008
  • Publication Author(s) Glen Robbins, Likani Lebani and Mike Rogan

Siyakhula, or the Western Cape Bus Operators’ Transport Cooperative Ltd, operates within the bus sector of the transport industry. A brief description of the sector follows in order to contextualise the operations of the cooperative.

The transport, storage and communications sector increased its share in real output growth in the Western Cape from 8% in 1995 to 11% in 2002. However, the sector’s growth was due primarily to high growth in the communications sub-sector rather than within the transport sub-sector. The total income of the transport sector was estimated at R14-billion in 2002.

A review of the public transport system in the Western Cape showed that scheduled bus services in the province, particularly in the Metro, declined dramatically over the past decade in terms of the extent (or coverage) of routes, frequency and quality of services. This was largely due to the impact of poor service levels coupled with increased competition from minibus taxis providing commuters with a convenient alternative.

There are about 22,000 buses in the transport industry in South Africa of which approximately 17,000 are involved in formal public transport activities (i.e. for reward/subsidy). The other 5,000 buses are found in commerce and industry and government institutions where they are mostly used for in-house purposes (i.e. not for reward/subsidy). Within the industry, it is possible to distinguish between the big operators, such as Putco and Golden Arrow, and the small operators who own between one and 30 buses.

The public transport buses provide direct employment to about 30,600 people throughout the country with about 153,000 people indirectly dependent on the industry (or directly related to employment in companies). The industry also supports a large number of suppliers, such as bus and chassis manufacturers, fuel and tyre companies, that are in some way dependent on the industry for employment. The public transport operators undertake approximately 816 million passenger trips per annum.

The public transport industry is represented by the Southern African Bus Operators’ Association (SABOA). SABOA was formed as a national body in 1980 by the five leading bus companies in order to protect their interests as subsidised transport operators by the Department of Transport. SABOA has gone through a significant transformation and now represents about 76% of the public transport fleet.

Members are offered the following services by SABOA: commuter, contract, learner, organised party, charter and tourism, cross border (international), and scheduled coaches. Given the broad membership of SABOA, its profile could be regarded as representative of the industry as a whole, as evident in Table 1.

  • Year 2008
  • Organisation TIPS
  • Publication Author(s) Karen Harrison
  • Countries and Regions South Africa

This executive summary is not presented in the usual manner of summarising the findings of each chapter of the report. The complexity and detail covered in the report, and the nuances in the debates, makes such an option impossible. Rather, a brief overview of the key issues and approaches is presented as a separate think piece.

This study was commissioned by the Presidency as a follow up to the Review of Second Economy Programmes conducted by the Second Economy Strategy Project. In the Review, it was noted that while social delivery programmes targeting poor people had largely been successful and implemented at scale over the past 15 years, the same could not be said for economic programmes aimed at creating market based employment opportunities. Generally, these latter programmes were found by the Review to be highly project focused, not scalable and, as a result, only reached a small number of direct beneficiaries. The Review cited six contributing factors to the modest success of these economic programmes. One of the cited problems was market access for small and marginal enterprises. It was that broad issue which framed this study.

More specifically, the terms of reference required that the study contemplate mechanisms to support a change in the trajectory of small marginalised producers which will lift them out of poverty. This trajectory change is based upon exploring what it would take to shift these producers away from selling to local, thin markets in favour of selling their outputs to external, developed markets – on fair terms. The terms of reference proposed the use of value chain analysis as the theoretical construct upon which the study is based, and very importantly, that it focus on what kinds of systemic-level changes would facilitate such linkages or allow them to take place at scale.

The study is designed to deliver two outputs. The first output is a linkage framework which will guide policymakers, researchers and practitioners in identifying the systemic issues which consistently, across sectors and nations, constrain marginalised producers from entering deeper and more established formal value chains. The identification of these issues, using value chain analysis, provides a list of issues which any policy intervention will need to address. The second output of the study is to stimulate policy debate in this area by suggesting new and novel approaches to possible linkage strategies. Two strategies are presented, although, an infinite number of strategies could emerge from the framework. The terms of reference are clear that the strategies presented in the second output do not need to be developed to the point where they are ready for programmatic roll out, but should rather catalyse debate. In addition, the terms of reference remove the need for the strategies and framework to deal with all areas of second economy production and poverty, because this study sits alongside other work streams all dealing with different aspects of the challenge.

Value chain analysis has been the cornerstone of the study. The appeal of value chain theory to our linkage study is fourfold.

Firstly, value chain analysis emphasises the issues of governance and power in markets which provides us with important information on the advantages and disadvantages of entering a specific value chain and different realities which will be experienced at different links within a given chain. Importantly, governance and power also direct our attention towards understanding how and why barriers to entry are created by value chain controllers and how these inhibit, but also potentially create, opportunities for small and marginalised 5 producers. Understanding how and why barriers are created and who ‘controls’ these barriers is crucial if one wishes to breach or harness such barriers.

The second appealing feature of value chain analysis is that it directly addressed how and why economic and other rents are distributed across a chain. By understanding which activities are ‘well’ rewarded along a chain, and which activities attract poor returns, we are able to develop a feel for which types of activities in the value chain that are likely to attract a return sufficient to positively impact on incomes and returns and which activities are like to result in immiserising growth. This is a crucial point because linking marginalised and small producers to developed value chains is not a guarantee that the livelihoods of such participants will improve. It is possible to increase such linkages without improving income generation or returns to small producers. As such, chain activity and product selection within a given power and governance environment must be carefully considered to ensure that the created linkages do in fact result in improved circumstances for small producers.

The third appealing feature of value chain analysis is that product and/or process upgrading is an intrinsic part of the theory. Firms go to the trouble and expense of implementing governance structures in order to assure themselves of access to the right goods, of the right quality, at the right time. As such, lead firms often see investing in their suppliers as a sound business decision and may either offer embedded services or facilitate the access of suppliers to appropriate upgrading services. The fact that upgrading to meet standards and critical success factors is intimately tied to governance and the exercise of chain power means that at least some of the supply side issues which will need to be dealt with in relation to small, marginalised producers can be dealt with endogenously i.e.: a successful linkage programme will by its nature incorporate some upgrading within the linkage itself, thereby decreasing the need to provide extensive, external supply side support over and above that provided by the core economy linkage partner.

The final appeal of value chain analysis is the fact that it is a demand side approach. For too long, policies, programmes and strategies in South Africa (and the rest of the world) have been supply driven, often resulting in production and productivity improvements in small and marginalised economic activities which do not translate into improved livelihoods; either due to a lack of final demand or low prices/returns earned. By adopting a demand side approach, we improve fundamentally the probability that if a linkage is successfully created, the activities or products of such producers will have an effective market in which to sell their outputs and services at a price that will improve their income and return earning potential.

These four appealing features of value chain analysis have motivated us to use value chain analysis as an appropriate construct on which to base our framework and strategic thinking. Essentially, these features offer us a consistent and rigorous methodology with which to isolate and express the crucial questions that will need to be answered in any attempt to link, at a systemic level, mainstream and marginalised economy players in South Africa.

Using value chain analysis for this study has not, however, been a simple task. Value chain theory is based on investigations of a specific product or sector, in a specific location, with specific actors, at a specific time. It is an empirically driven analysis. In our study, where we are searching for systemic obstacle identification and systemic solutions to obstacles, this sector specific approach creates difficulties in terms of the level of analysis.

To counter this, a framework has been developed, and strategic options compiled, based on cross-cutting issues. The study looked at hundreds of case studies and specific sector value chain analyses undertaken in scores of countries. Surprisingly, the same issues arose time and again. This leant credence to the study’s assertion that, irrespective of sector, some characteristics of lead firms in the mainstream economy, and some characteristics of small producers in the second economy, lead consistently to the same obstacles to successful linkages. As such, we identify these cross-cutting issues as systemic in nature and believe that they reveal the key constraints which must be addressed in order to implement a successful linkage strategy.

  • Year 2008
  • Organisation TIPS
  • Publication Author(s) Sandy Lowitt
  • Countries and Regions South Africa

In 2005, the Small Enterprise Development Agency (seda) - the dti's newly established agency for supporting small business - tasked TIPS to carry out a second annual review of South Africa's small businesses as part of its mandate to support the growth of small enterprise in South Africa, to help create a better regulatory environment for small enterprise, and to encourage a culture of entrepreneurship.

The Annual Review of Small Business in South Africa 2004, this time published in two parts - A Statistical Review and a Qualitative Review - was launched at the first annual seda National Small Enterprise Summit in November 2005. These Summits aim to review the progress made in small business development, and to share best practice in this field.

  • Year 2004
  • Organisation DTI
  • Publication Author(s) TIPS
  • Countries and Regions South Africa

The Department of Trade & Industry's (the dti's) Enterprise Development unit is tasked with developing policy and strategy for the small business sector. The objectives of government policy and strategy on enterprise development are empowerment, economic development and job creation. Much progress towards meeting these objectives has been made over the first decade of democracy in South Africa, but challenges remain.

In assessing the progress made, it is important to provide a formal mechanism for monitoring and evaluation of government's overarching strategy towards small business development and to allow for feedback on the outcomes of government strategy at various levels household, sectoral, regional and national.

In 2004, the dti commissioned TIPS as an independent, credible institution not directly involved in the delivery of SMME services to undertake a broad-ranging, qualitative assessment of the outcomes of government's policy, strategy and initiatives in enterprise development.

The first annual assessment of the impact of government policy in this key dimension of government activity, the Annual Review of Small Business in South Africa 2003, was published early in 2004. This Review addressed what has long been a critical weakness of research efforts around SMMEs: the lack of longitudinal or time-series data illustrating the effect of government's enterprise development strategy over time.

Moreover, the Review also focussed on the increasingly desperate need to develop a consistent dataset of SMMEs that have been interviewed repeatedly over time, which thus allows the dti to access a wealth of analytically sound information about how SMMEs develop in different economic climates and their support needs at different times in their development.

  • Year 2003
  • Organisation DTI
  • Publication Author(s) TIPS
  • Countries and Regions South Africa
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