Access to finance by black-owned small and medium enterprises operating in the South African agro- processing sector

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University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) make a meaningful contribution to economic growth, job creation and poverty alleviation. Despite this, there is a low creation and high failure rate of new small businesses in South Africa. Access to finance is considered the main contributing factor, particularly amongst black-owned SMEs. South Africa has identified agro-processing industry as a sector with high potential to spur growth and create jobs because of strong linkage with primary agriculture. Against this background, this study sought to investigate the factors that hinder access to finance by black-owned SMEs operating in the agro-processing sector in South Africa and explore other key factors that threaten their long-term survival. This research contributes to solutions aimed at addressing the root causes attributable to SMEs’ inability to access funding from the formal financial institutions and government agencies. Using qualitative research method, data was collected from black SME entrepreneurs through semi-structured, in-depth interviews and analysed using content analysis. Purposeful sampling was used to identify and select the participants. The insights gained from the research highlights that black-owned SMEs are severely impacted by funding and market access issues, amongst others. The findings revealed that black SME entrepreneurs prefer to use own capital and/or funds from family and friends to start and grow their businesses. Complex processes, unsuitable financial products, high interest rates, unfavourable repayment terms and favouritism in government schemes were found to be amongst the key factors that discourage SMEs from applying for formal institutional finance. Other factors such as limited access to information about available funding sources and access to market opportunities significantly influence the long-term success of black- owned SMEs. To develop a sustainable, long-term financing model for SMEs, it is recommended that government, in partnership with the private financial institutions, establish a small business financing institution for SMEs in the agro-processing industry. To avoid the major deficiencies plaguing the existing government schemes, this should be a private, stand-alone entity funded by the government and private financial sector. The new institution should introduce new, innovative financing solutions that are tailored for start-up and early-stage SMEs.
A research report submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Business Administration to the Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management, Wits Business School, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, 2022
SMEs, Entrepreneurship, Access, Financing, Growth, Gro-processing, UCTD
Tjabadi, Jazzino. (2022). Access to finance by black-owned small and medium enterprises operating in the South African agro- processing sector [Master’s dissertation, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg]. WireDSpace.