Self-made millionaire and president of SA Entrepreneurs Forum, Lebo Gunguluza, has vowed that his organisation will use its clout if necessary to lobby government to pour more money and resources into the small business ministry.
Speaking at a discussion panel at the opening day of the Business Opportunities and Franchise Expo in Fourways, north of Johannesburg today, Gunguluza said the newly-created Department of Small Business Development led by Minister Lindiwe Zulu needs to be allocated the “biggest budget”.
Also on the panel was Eskom Development Foundation NPC, Haylene Liberty-Nel and Thebe Reed Exhibitions MD, Carol Weaving with Vusi Thembekwayo facilitating the discussion.
Gunguluza said experience had taught him that many black-owned businesses fail partly because they lack necessary support.
“This department needs to be given the biggest infrastructure budget in order to create an enabling environment to enable exposure to markets and clients for entrepreneurs,” he said. But Gunguluza couldn’t be drawn to estimate how much budget was necessary.
Chief economist of the Efficient Group, a wealth management group, Dawie Roodt who was part of the same discussion panel vehemently disagreed with Gunguluza on pumping more money into the small business ministry. Roodt said businesses needed to prioritise creating wealth and looking at investing in foreign markets instead of depending on government.
“I have a big problem with dishing money to politicians,” Roodt said.
Gunguluza said there are multiple factors that put black entrepreneurs at a disavantage compared to their white counterparts. He proposed that the department must track entrepreneurship from an early age of life.
Entrepreneurship as culture
“The concept of entrepreneurship must begin early on in life. Entrepreneurship is a culture while SME development only gets you halfway,” said Gunguluza. “This is why I say this should have been the Department of Small Business Development and Entrepreneurship.”
Gunguluza said the state needs to integrate entrepreneurship in schools’ curriculum as a matter of priority because “powerful people are those who were exposed and groomed early on in life.”
“This simple notion of creating wealth as advocated by Roodt is not feasible for black entrepreneurs as the playing field is not level,” said Gunguluza.
There are up to 75 businesses participating at the exhibition which runs from 11-14 September. Also taking part in the Expo are the finalists and winners of the Eskom Business Investment Competition 2014 which was held on Tuesday, including Regal Quality Products, a Cape Town-based household cleaning products company that walked away with the ultimate prize of R1.7 million.