Issues in SME Development in Ghana and South Africa
Joshua Abor Department of Finance University of Ghana Business School, Legon Peter Quartey Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research University of Ghana, Legon Abstract This paper discusses the characteristics, contributions of SMEs to economic development, and the constraints to SME development in developing countries with particular reference to Ghana and South Africa. SMEs in Ghana have been noted to provide about 85% of manufacturing employment of Ghana. They are also believed to contribute about 70% to Ghana’s GDP and account for about 92% of businesses in Ghana. In the Republic of South Africa, it is estimated that 91% of the formal business entities are SMEs. They also contribute between 52 to 57% to GDP and provide about 61% to employment. Notwithstanding the recognition of the important roles SMEs play in these countries, their development is largely constrained by a number of factors, such as lack of access to appropriate technology; limited access to international markets, the existence of laws, regulations and rules that impede the development of the sector; weak institutional capacity, lack of management skills and training, and most importantly finance. The paper provides some relevant recommendations to policy makers, development agencies, entrepreneurs, and SME managers to ascertain the appropriate strategy to improve the SME sector in these countries.
Keywords: SME Development, Ghana, South Africa
There is growing recognition of the important role small and medium enterprises (SMEs) play in economic development. They are often described as efficient and prolific job creators, the seeds of big businesses and the fuel of national economic engines. Even in the developed industrial economies, it is the SME sector rather than the multinationals that is the largest employer of workers (Mullineux, 1997). Interest in the role of SMEs in the development process continues to be in the forefront of policy debates in most countries. Governments at all levels have undertaken initiatives to promote the growth of SMEs (Feeney and Riding, 1997). SME development can encourage the process of both inter and intra-regional decentralization; and, they may well become a countervailing force against the economic power of larger enterprises. More generally, the development of SMEs is seen as accelerating the achievement of wider economic and socio-economic objectives, including poverty alleviation (Cook and Nixson, 2000). According to an OECD report, SMEs produce about 25% of OECD exports and 35% of Asia’s exports (OECD, 1997).
International Research Journal of Finance and Economics - Issue 39 (2010)
SMEs represent over 90% of private business and contribute to more than 50% of employment and of GDP in most African countries (UNIDO, 1999). Small enterprises in Ghana are said to be a characteristic feature of the production landscape and have been noted to provide about 85% of manufacturing employment of Ghana (Steel and Webster, 1991; Aryeetey, 2001). SMEs are also believed to contribute about 70% to Ghana’s GDP and account for about 92% of businesses in Ghana. Similarly, in the Republic of South Africa, it is estimated that 91% of the formal business entities are Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) (Hassbroeck, 1996; Berry et al., 2002). They also contribute between 52 and 57% to GDP and provide about 61% of employment (CSS, 1998; Ntsika, 1999; Gumede, 2000; Berry et al., 2002). SMEs therefore have a crucial role to play in stimulating growth, generating employment and contributing to poverty alleviation, given their economic weight in African countries. How do SMEs in Ghana compare with their counterparts in South Africa and what policy lessons can be...