SME Growth through Access to Markets: Entrepreneurship Dialogue

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SME Growth through Access to Markets: Entrepreneurship Dialogue


On 17 September 2019, Milpark Education hosted entrepreneurs, students and SMEs from various areas in Gauteng. The event was focused on a robust dialogue demystifying the concept of “SME growth through access to markets”. The dialogue featured prominent industry experts from business advisory and consulting, coaching and mentoring, government, banking and township based organisations. The event was facilitated by Philasande Sokhela, marketing and entrepreneurship lecturer at Milpark School of Commerce.

How SMEs can position products to effectively access markets

SME owners planning to access a market should have a deeper understanding of the market and industry they intend to penetrate. It is therefore important to conduct a feasibility study, to ensure that the target market is clearly defined and singled out, said Joseph Tshiwilowilo – CEO JMT Consulting. Blindly going into a foreign market without proper research, could lead to failure. Thus, an SME should have a clearly defined and segmented niche market that will likely respond to the products.

How strategic partnerships can enable access to markets

Strategic partnerships are all about knowing exactly who your key stakeholders are, and how you are going to leverage them to get your product into a market, says Nothile Mpisi, GM – EkasilabsSoweto. Partnerships enable SMEs access to existing customer databases, valuable resources and supply chains that have alrteady been put in place. Regina Gounden, Provincial Manager – Nedbank Small Business Enterprise, said “Banks are not all about lending money, SMEs should start building relationships with banks in order to access resources, support and markets”. An SME cannot grow in isolation, she added. SMEs can register on Nedbank simply biz to access a pool of resources and information that can assist them with their business.

How an SME can scale up

As an SME, it is important to have an understanding of your business model and to have a strategy to scale up. Scaling up requires determination, effort, and commitment from the entrepreneur. “Most SMEs are not aware of the terminologies used in business, thus the reason for misperception and lack of clear understanding of what it takes for an SME to grow”, said Sifiso Ndwandwe – Executive Director – Catalyst for Growth (C4G). In order to build a strategic partner an SME needs to have a strategy, and vision. Without a vision, there is no growth. “Always remember why the business was started in the first place”, said Regina. South Africa signed an African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA) in 2018. The aim of the agreement was to create Africa’s biggest free-trade market for African businesses and investments, said Jan Magoro, Director – Department of Monitoring and Evaluation (Presidency). This meant that business owners within the African continent can trade freely across African borders. More information about this agreement can be found on Summary of Main Trade Agreements between South Africa and the rest of the World

Rounding it all up

SMEs are key to employment creation and economic growth. However, in order to achieve this, SMEs require support from the public and private sectors. Government interventions have enabled SMEs through various initiatives and development programmes. Key players in the entrepreneurial ecosystem need to also play a part, said Dr. Sam Koma – Head of Research Milpark Education. Government alone cannot achieve the NDP 2030 vision of poverty alleviation and job creation. We need to come together as a collective, all industries and sectors, with a view to develop solutions to key challenges faced by SMEs. Clarenelda Van Viel, a Director at Green Valley Consultants stressed that entrepreneurs should continuously seek information and empower themselves by reading books to enlighten their minds and remain motivated throughout their entrepreneurship journey.


23 Sep 2019