South Africa does not fare well in measures of entrepreneurship across countries. We can do better if we focus on providing an enabling environment for individuals to grow their businesses.
45% of working South Africans are employed in the small business sector. Against this, small businesses account for 60% of employment in most European economies, over 80% in Southern European economies, and even higher percentages in some East Asian economies.
The government’s main strategy for promoting small businesses has been to distribute support services and goods, rather than to create a freer and more supportive environment.
South Africa can do better if we shift the direction of enterprise support from government bureaucracy to public-private partnership, and if we celebrate the achievements of successful entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurship can only flourish where the values of the market are thoroughly and widely internalised. Policies to support entrepreneurship should work with the market, and not try to over-rule it.