Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises comprise the majority of South African businesses and, have an important role to play in reducing the dependence on, and consumption of scarce resources.
South Africa has the capacity to develop the much needed self-subsistence through its own industry, the country has the ability to become a global player in the developing world when it comes to water security and innovative solutions.
The Covid-19 pandemic had a significant impact on SME’s throughout South Africa. A 2020 report by Finfind, highlighted that 42.7% of SME’s closed down during 2020. The sectors hardest hit by the lockdown and with the most closures were in the Construction (14.2%), Food and beverage (9.9%) and Hospitality (9.7%) industries – who all rely on large quantities of water. The pandemic pushed businesses into a long recession that affected the economic growth of the entire country.
SME's can face a number of challenges, including a lack of resources, finances and skilled personnel; being disproportionately affected by regulatory burdens; and those encountered in fostering innovation and improving environmental performance. The solution is to include and develop a more organised water sector, considering relevant water pricing research and policy change that will enable private sector investment in water infrastructure, to create entry and engagement avenues for SMMEs, and addressing not only the quantitative aspects of enterprise development inclusion, but equally qualitative indicators that address capacity development beyond relating to water service provision.
The initial findings of the study claims that the small business sector employs 29% of South Africans. Many of the SMEs (39%) that were surveyed are “sole proprietor” operations, while close to half (47%) employ 2-5 people.
South Africa should aim to keep supplies and resources within a closed-loop system, from extraction to end-of-life, in order to reduce wastage and improve sustainability. MEB is a pioneer in developing sustainable solutions that are designed to reduce the output of waste products and emissions, to rapidly advance national SDGs.