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SBP - SME Growth Index 2014

Thank you to all our panellists for partcipating in our SME Growth Index survey for 2014.  These findings wll be published regularly during the course of this year (2015) in a series of publications.

For these and other publicatons please also visit the dedicated website for the SME Growth Index -

SBP is proud to announce the release of the 2013 SME Growth Index

The 2013 Headline Report is the third instalment of a larger narrative, built up over the three years since the launch of the SME Growth Index in 2011.

This year, the Headline Report pays particular attention to the factors impacting on firm growth and links these findings to an assessment of South Africa's competitiveness.  Interestingly, the challenges of a difficult business environment appear to be driven mainly by domestic factors, rather than global conditions.  The majority of the SMEs reported the top five factors inhibiting their firm growth in 2013 as lack of skills in first place, followed by burdensome regulations, local economic conditions, a lack of finance and the cost of labour.  Together these accounted for well over half of the panel's responses.

The dedicated website for the SME Growth Index -


The second round of the SME Growth Index - the most comprehensive gathering of firm-level data yet undertaken in South Africa finds that round one third of firms report a threat to their very existence, and large majorities believe it is becoming more difficult to do business.  It analyses the critical issue of whether firms are in fact growing in the current environment, and the related question - central to national concerns - of whether they are taking on new employees.  It also examines the aspirations of SME operators.  The results are intriguing and often sobering, but provide a detailed picture of an enormously valuable resource that should not, and need not, be wasted.

Please visit the SME Growth Index dedicated website

Labour Legislation in South Africa

A raft of amendments to labour legislation in South Africa - the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) and the Labour Relations Act (LRA) - is currently under consideration in Parliament.  The changes that they intend to introduce range from relatively minor clarifications to some 20 provisions, that according to Business Unity South Africa, could potentially fundamentally restructure the labour regime in South Africa.  In June 2012 (BUSA) through funding support from the Employment Promotion Programme) commissioned SBP and Professor Neil Rankin of the School of Economics and Business Science at the University of the Witwatersrand to conduct an independent economic impact analysis on selected areas of the draft Bills.  The following report demonstrates the impact of these provisions on the economy with a particular focus on the consequences that are likely to have in terms of employment and the nature of firms most likely be be affected...


SME Growth Index - Headline Results 2011

Last year SBP published the first round of its longitudinal SME Growth Index.  This is an unprecedented study into South Africa's small business sector.  This year, SBP will be conducting the second.  It will be the definitive account of the country's SME sector;  over an initial period of three years, the Growth Index will track the lives and travails of a panel of 500 firms in the manufacturing, business services and tourism sectors in three major cities to establish how and why they grow or decline.  The study has received considerable media attention.  For more information please visit the dedicated website


In South Africa, it is estimated that 73 percent of workers are employed by firms with less than 50 employees.  Small firms make a critical contribution to the country's GDP, and government's tax base.  Despite their importance to the economy, very little is known about what differentiates the small businesses that scrapes by year to year with no real prospects of growth, from the firms that achieve high performance.  Yet this information is critical to inform government's broader macro-economic strategy and job creation goals.

SBP is committed to producing high-quality; outcomes based analysis that bridges the gap between theory, observation and practice.  Our ground-breaking new SME GROWTH INDEX will, for the first time, provide evidence based longitudinal data to monitor the performance of small firms and identify the factors impeding firm growth and employment creation.

The SME Growth Index will monitor the characteristics, performance, and resilience of a representative sample of 500 growth-orientated small firms, over a period of three years initially, in order to identify the internal characteristics and external factors associated with successful businesses growth.  It takes as its starting point that small firms change over time.  Moment in time data is of limited utility.  Longitudinal monitoring - revisiting the same firms over a period of time will provide a dynamic picture that captures the subtle impact of changing market conditions, regulatory frameworks and innovation, and allow the understanding of how business decisions have played out.

Furthermore, while focusing on factors impacting on small business performance, growth and job creation, the survey will also surface important policy implications for the business sector as a whole.

The cohort will consist of well established small firms, employing up to 49 people.  The focus is on sectors offering growth potential for small firms, specifically in the business services sector, and manufacturing.  The SME Growth Index will be the first of its kind in South Africa, and indeed one of the very few such indices worldwide.

Banking sector comprehensive regulatory impact assessment - another ria 'first' for SBP

In 2010 SBP was commissioned by the Banking Association of South Africa to undertake the country's first comprehensive regulatory impact assessment for a specific sector. South Africa's banks operate in a complex political and regulatory environment.  The full set of regulatory requirements applicable to the sector translates into very substantial compliance costs in terms of direct costs, staff time and administrative systems.  The RIA examines the cumulative impacts of government legislation and other regulations on the banking sector, and assesses the costs and benefits of selected regulations in detail.

Regulatory Impact Assessment

Understanding the gender dynamics of SET studies

SBP is currently engaged in a study on behalf of the Department of Science and Technology's National Advisory Council on Innovation (NACI).  The study examines the challenges faced by female students in entering and continuing in the fields of science, engineering and technology (SET), and the factors that promote and support access for female students to SET fields.  It includes analysis of the gender profile of students in different SET courses, factors impacting on female students dropping out of SET courses, sources of support available to female students in SET courses, broader challenges to teaching in SET fields and initiatives to address the problems. 

Roundtable - Towards Better Regulation: Roundtable discussions

SBP held a series of Roundtable discussions in 2010, under the theme Making South Africa a better place to do business. 
One of these focused on the implications of the new Companies Act and its Business Rescue provisions.  The link below provides a summary of key points that emerged in the discussion. 


SBP also facilitated a fascinating discussion titled Is BBBEE an effective route to inclusive development and economic growth in South Africa?  The discussion involved 24 invited participants.  It opened with short inputs by three eminent panelists - S'dumo Dlamini (President, Cosatu) Bobby Godsell (Chair, BLSA) and Duma Gqubule (author and BEE anaylst).  The discussion was organised in association with BBBEE Advisory Council member Prof. Mohammed Jahed. The aim was to highlight issues for the Advisory Council's agenda from various perspectives, including large and small business, organised labour and independent analysts. Click below for a summary of the discussion. 


Doing business in Gauteng: Challenges and Opportunities (December 2008 - June 2009)

Gauteng is South Africa's economic engine, accounting for 33 percent of South Africa's GDP. The province is the fourth largest economy in Africa, and generates almost half of South Africa's salaries and wages.

In 2009 SBP undertook a comprehensive assessment of the province's business environment, on behalf of the Gauteng Department of Economic Development. We consulted with a broad range of provincial and local government officials, and undertook a quantitative survey of over 500 businesses operating in Gauteng.

Key challenges identified by the study included lack of investment in road infrastructure, the high cost of freight transport, and inadequate rail freight services. Administrative inefficiency and capacity problems in local and provincial government were also critical concerns.

SBP presented the main project findings and recommendations to a high-level forum of government and businesses representatives in November 2009.  The forum, hosted by then MEC for Economic Development Firoz Cachalia, provided an opportunity for stakeholders across Gauteng to learn more about the project and the implications of key recommendations for their respective spheres of responsibility. 

A summary of SBP's report is available here.

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