Support for SMEs: Page 2 of 3

to support DFIs generate business through business linkages between SMEs and big businesses. Such business opportunities can only be realized by the DFIs if there is deliberate and conscious effort in the region to promote business linkages between large businesses, both domestic and foreign-owned (multinationals) and SMEs. Fostering linkages between large businesses and small and medium businesses is key to developing a more vibrant and competitive SME sector, particularly for better export competitiveness.

 

Environmental Management Systems

This programme aims at raising SMEs awareness and adoption of best practice in EMS to improve SME competitiveness and profitability.

 

Business Support Services Providers

The DFRC through this programme develops projects that give support to DFIs in their development and delivery of appropriate extension services to SMEs.

While SME support agencies exist in the region their impact has been limited. The service providers have been criticized for;

  • Their bureaucratic character;
  • Inability to recruit and retain competent and motivated staff; Insufficient geographical spread; •Lack of coordination; Concentration on start ups with little focus on the development stages of enterprises; and
  • Failure to address the underlying constraints of business growth and increasing global competition.

 

The DFRC support programme to BSS providers with special focus on DFIs will be broad-based, encompassing the various kinds of support that need to be extended to businesses, ranging from;

  • Facilitating business establishment;
  • Financial accounting and management services; and
  • Marketing of SME products and services. The approach will be best practice focused. Best practice interventions include specialized support services through a multi-layered Government supported network of service providers, coordinated with specialized private sector institutions. The quality of BSS providers in the SADC region has failed to meet these standards.

 

Entrepreneurship and Women Business Development

The programmes undertakes projects that seek to advise SADC member states on policies that promote entrepreneurship amongst citizens and assist DFIs to develop projects that encourage citizen businesses and are gender sensitive.

 

SME Development should be seen as a means of promoting the growth of local entrepreneurs and hence the private sector of an economy or country. SMEs represent the broad concept of democracy and gender empowerment. As such, SME development helps to achieve a more equitable distribution of benefits of economic growth and thereby help in alleviating most of the problems associated with uneven income distribution.

 

Considering that the productive activities and services of most SMEs employ or are closely associated with female labour, the development of such enterprises helps to enhance the participation of women in economic activities and improve their living conditions. In the SADC countries, the need to raise the level of the majority