Government Focus on SMEs welcomed

South African Institute of Professional Accountants

26 June 2014

Government Focus on SMEs welcomed

Over 10 000 Professional Accountants (SA) ready to assist SMEs

SAIPA – the South African Institute of Professional Accountants – says new Small Business Development Minister, Lindiwe Zulu, can count on its support in bolstering the sector.

In welcoming her recent appointment, SAIPA says Zulu’s role will provide the much-needed focus on small and medium-sized entities (SMEs) that the sector has been waiting for.

“As small businesses are known to have the potential to drive economic growth and job creation more than other sectors, it just makes so much sense that we have someone who will focus on driving this critical sector of our economy,” says Faith Ngwenya, Technical and Standards Executive at SAIPA.

“But, we want Ms Zulu also to know that professional bodies such as SAIPA and its members are ready to partner with government in providing SMEs with access to skills and services.”

“As the ministry will likely be one of the first places that SME owners turn to for help, we hope that government will partner with us as an institute that is geared – through its 10 000 Professional Accountant (SA) members countrywide – to provide SMEs with all the support they need to start and sustain successful businesses.”

SAIPA’s more than 10 000 members are situated throughout the country, in major centres as well as smaller towns in every province.

“Although we can’t provide finance, SAIPA is able to help those seeking financial support to make sure that they have the proper resources and financial documentation in place,” says Ngwenya. “This helps boost their chances of receiving funding and of ensuring that, once received, the money will be spent in a responsible manner.”

How the Professional Accountant (SA) can help SMEs

In addition to assisting SMEs with financial advice and preparing them for the acquisition of finance, the Professional Accountant (SA) is also in a unique position to provide general business advice to his or her SME clients.

Also, Ngwenya says, professional accountants working in SMEs have a critical role to play in embedding sustainability into the business strategy and practices of their employers.

“Considering the fact that five out of every seven SMEs fail in their first year in business in this country, mostly due to lack of financial and business acumen, good business advice is clearly an area of great need,” she says. “We can help them to do more with less.”

Furthermore, Ngwenya says, just because businesses are small doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t incorporate sustainable practices in their companies from the start. In fact, their commitment to sustainability could become the very thing that sets them apart from their competitors in the minds of their customers and attracts more business.

For example, she says accountants can give advice – not only on how to reduce general costs in a business and run systems more efficiently – but also on the benefits of reducing energy costs and pollution. “From simple behavioural changes aimed at eliminating waste, to investing in new equipment and alternate sources of energy, to developing an environmental management system,” she says. Accountants can also help with preparing sustainability and integrated reports and providing the necessary assurances.

“We know that starting a new business can be an overwhelming thing,” Ngwenya concludes. “Yet, we want SMEs to know that they’re not alone. We’re here to help them make a success of their endeavours, not as mere service providers, but as partners in their success.”

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