small business and big business in the metals and engineering sector, the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation (SEIFSA) has announced.

Minister Zulu, whose Ministry is charged with the responsibility of stimulating and supporting small business in the country, will be the main speaker in a session that will critically review the state of relations between big and small companies in manufacturing in general and the metals and engineering sector in particular. The session will provide an assessment of the degree to which big and small businesses complement one another.

Ms Zulu is South Africa’s first-ever Minister of Small Business Development. The Ministry was formed after the 2014 general elections following the Government’s acceptance of the view that small business is a significant contributor to the economy in general and job creation in particular.

In South Africa, it is estimated that SMMEs constitute approximately 90% of formalised businesses and provide employment to about 60% of the country’s labour force, while their economic contribution accounts for roughly 34% of GDP – a significant contribution by a sector whose importance is often underestimated.

There are many small businesses in themanufacturing sector in general and the metals and engineering sector. It is against this backdrop that SEIFSA, the organiser of the Southern African Metals and Engineering Indaba taking place at the IDC Conference Centre in Sandton on Thursday and Friday (26-27 May), invited Minister Zulu to address the conference.

The Expressing appreciation to Minister Zulu, SEIFSA Chief Executive Officer Kaizer Nyatsumba said more than 60% of SEIFSA members are small companies employing fewer than 50 people.

“Therefore, it was critically important that the 2016 Indaba dedicates a session that is specifically aimed at addressing the needs of small business. We are delighted about the fact that Minister Zulu will address this matter at the conference. We agree with those who argue that ‘small business is big business’,” Mr Nyatsumba said.

The 2nd annual Indaba is aimed at sparking the revival of the metals and engineering sector in particular and the manufacturing sector in general. It will offer business executives, captains of industry, policy makers, Government Ministers and labour leaders a vital opportunity to discuss matters of common interest constructively in order to improve the performance of the struggling sector and grow South Africa’s slumbering economy.

Former President Kgalema Motlanthe will deliver the Opening Address on the first day of the conference and Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan will deliver the Closing Address on Friday, 27 May.

Among the speakers this year are top South African business leaders, Government leaders, representatives of international business and financial institutions – as well as authorities from the European Union and the United States of America, including:

  • Black Business Council Vice-President Sandile Zulu
  • International Monetary Fund Senior Resident Representative Dr Axel Schimmelpfennig;
  • Executive Chairman of the EU Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Southern Africa Mr Stefan Sakoschek;
  • Massmart Chairman Mr Kuseni Dlamini;
  • US Embassy Economics Minister Mr Laird Trieber.

The 2016 Indaba will focus on the following topics, among others:

  • Partners, Not Adversaries: How to Forge A Stronger Partnership Between Business and Labour to Improve Southern Africa’s International Competitiveness
  • A Delicate Balancing Act: The Link Between the Metals and Engineering Sector and the Mining, Construction and Car Manufacturing Industries
  • Southern Africa and the Huge Infrastructure Backlog – How to finance it.

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