5 Ways to Support South African SMEs

Local entrepreneur Marnus Broodryk's video and why he's voting for SMEs is going viral. Why? Because SMEs are the backbone of the South African economy, fuelling job creation in 2019 and beyond.

learn more about Diana Albertyn

By Diana Albertyn

Mike Turner

You're reading Entrepreneur South Africa, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

Job creation is on every political party's agenda, but with the upcoming elections upon us, have you considered how this promise is going to be fulfilled post-voting day? "Where are all these jobs going to come from?" asks Marnus Broodryk, self-made millionaire and CEO and founder of The Beancounter, in a video that's gone viral, having been shared more than 3 000 times in the last week.

"Will they come from corporates? Will it be from government? I don't think so. Big corporates are closing branches, retrenching thousands of staff and boasting about technological advancements to drive efficiency. Meanwhile, some government institutions are over 60% overstaffed."

Marnus believes lowering the unemployment rate in South Africa starts with supporting small business – that's why he's voting for small business on 8 May 2019. Here's how you can too.

1. Share the business's page on social media

Like it, support it, invite others to visit it. Whether it's Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn, social media is the most affordable and effective tool an SME owner has available to market their business to millions of users online who may not have known the business even exists.

Related: 5 Smart Ways to Use Social Media to Grow Your Business in 2019

Interacting with SMEs on social media also helps the business owner know who their customers are and how to better serve them and attract more. Share images of a meal you have at your local coffee shop and tag the business's social media page so others can find it and learn more or even visit the shop.

2. Word of mouth referrals

Take the time to share your experience with friends, family, acquaintances and to your social media platforms. People are more likely to trust a recommendation from an actual customer than the business itself.

According to a Nielsen study 92% of millennials aren't buying into adverts anymore, making word of mouth marketing (WOMM) so crucial for small business growth. This is especially true in the SME sector where big advertising budgets aren't available to compete with big companies' campaigns.

3. Buy local

Small and medium businesses provide 60% of all jobs, so essentially, the more support local entrepreneurs receive from South African consumers, the stronger the economy.

"Supporting small businesses is the best way to indirectly play your part in economic development. SMEs make up 91% of formalised businesses and contribute roughly 34% of GDP," says Viresh Harduth, Vice President: New Customer Acquisition (Small & Medium businesses) for Sage Africa & Middle East.

Buying local also means more affordable and quality products in some cases, as the shipping cost is cut out or reduced, and the production line is often shorter. When you buy products that are made and distributed locally you also get peace of mind that should you need on-site support for product maintenance, it's a much simpler process.

4. Inspire a spark to start something

Supporting SMEs could inspire confidence in other entrepreneurs who are wanting to start something of their own. Shopping with smaller businesses and not predominately choosing larger chains and multinationals creates invested confidence in local talent.

Local markets where SMEs showcase their products offer quite competitive pricing and you could also have the opportunity of hearing a new idea that could take off with your help or that of someone you know. Listen to the sales pitch of a school-leaver with an idea, ask for local referrals for products and services.

5. Work together as a community

SMEs get more done together than when competing both with each other and global competitors. According to Arnold February, regional investment manager at Business Partners Limited (BUSINESS/PARTNERS), SMEs around the country should collaborate to form a community and support each other's business growth, whilst creating unique experiences for customers.

"SME owners who have businesses operating in the same field should not view one another as competition, but rather work together to complement each other," says February. "This will not only benefit the businesses, but also provide clients with better and more streamlined services, while showcasing the best of what the country has to offer."

Related: 11 Critical Success Factors That Will Help You Achieve Next-Level Growth

Diana Albertyn

Entrepreneur Staff

Sales Enablement: Content Developer

Diana Albertyn completed a BA in Journalism in 2010 and has honed her skills as a newspaper reporter, senior communications specialist: strategy and media liaison and feature article magazine writer. Since joining the Entrepreneur South Africa team in 2016, Diana has honed her expertise in business leadership, content marketing and managing client accounts. 

Related Topics

Thought Leaders

The Collapse of Credit Suisse: A Cautionary Tale of Resistance to Hybrid Work

This cautionary tale serves as a reminder for business leaders to adapt to the changing world of work and prioritize their workforce's needs and preferences.

Starting a Business

5 Different Types Of South African Business Structures

Do you know which type of business will suit your South African business idea best? Here are the five different types you can register your business as.


5 Winning Habits That Will Transform Your Leadership Skills

Ready to take your leadership skills to the next level? Discover the five winning habits that will transform you into an exceptional leader!

Business News

The 'Airbnbust' Proves the Wild West Days of Online Vacation Rentals Are Over

Airbnb recently reported that 2022 was its first profitable year ever. But the deluge of new listings foreshadowed an inevitable correction.