Sustainable development and inclusive economic growth can only be achieved with innovative solutions aimed at addressing the social challenges that continue to disadvantage groups in society.
Development-oriented measures therefore need to promote innovation, creativity, and access to skills development. Entrepreneurship holds enormous potential as a possible solution to achieving the above and to enabling socio-economic development.
Entrepreneurship goes beyond merely establishing a business; it is a process of identifying economic opportunities for innovation and acting upon them to grow new enterprises, thus adding social and economic value to society.
The main purpose of entrepreneurship is to find unique, creative solutions to address a problem, create a supply for unmet demands, and derive economic value from that process. This is why it has the potential to achieve sustainable, inclusive economic development. Entrepreneurship therefore needs to be aimed at creating services, products and business models that cultivate opportunities to upskill, teach and provide formal training.
Stats SA reported that by the end of 2021, the official unemployment rate was 34,9% with approximately 7,6 million people unemployed. This statistic was even higher among young people, with over 46,3% of the youth unemployed. These staggering rates highlight that sustainable development cannot be achieved without promoting job creation, skills development, and creating equal access and participation in the market economy.
To cultivate long-term economic growth across society, unmet needs in the labour market ought to be resolved through innovative solutions. It is important to lay a foundation that enables entrepreneurs to innovate at a faster rate and ensure a greater impact. This involves the following steps:
- Identifying and addressing barriers to small business growth − Part of the difficulty ensuring that individuals continue to innovate and find ways of solving problems is the barriers to small business growth. Barriers such as inaccessible markets, an unfavourable government policy and funding issues discourage entrepreneurship. A favourable government policy, supportive legislation and easy access to the market will enable small businesses to reach optimal growth by addressing these challenges, thus allowing sustained entrepreneurship.
- Promoting access to digital transformation − Rapid digital transformation has made it difficult for small businesses to compete in the market. The COVID-19 pandemic made it evident that digital technology allowed established businesses to continue functioning, while those who did not have access to such technologies had to slow down. Ensuring equitable digital transformation by addressing the digital skills and infrastructure gap will allow more technology-enabled products and services in the market. Digital entrepreneurship can play a key role in promoting socio-economic inclusion, stimulating local development, and creating data-driven solutions that personalise products and services.
It is clear that a redress of the labour market is necessary to ensure that greater entrepreneurial opportunities are created, and small businesses move from micro-businesses to becoming macro-entities.
Depo Ogunruku CA(SA), MD of Outsourced Finance