Role of SMMEs in the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals in Africa

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the Global Goals, were adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030.

Africa, a continent riddled with the high levels of poverty, pockets of civil unrest and economic underdevelopment has a vested interest in achieving SDGs. Small, Medium and Micro Enterprise (SMMEs) have an important role to play in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), by promoting inclusive and sustainable economic growth, providing employment and decent work for all, promoting sustainable industrialisation and fostering innovation, and reducing income inequalities.

SMMEs are major creators of jobs. In Africa, more than 50% of total employment creation in the private sector can be attributed to SMMEs. SMMEs in various sectors of an economy are the driving engine behind economic activity. Unemployment has a direct correlation with poverty levels in Africa.

The growth in new jobs added to the economy by SMMEs combat this trend. African governments have invested in supporting SMMEs founded by youth in effort to tackle youth unemployment. Africa has the largest concentration of young people in the world and this is forecasted to increase to 42% of the world’s population by 2030.

There is an ever-growing need for jobs in Africa and SMMEs play an important role in training young people, acting as a seed bed for the development of entrepreneurial talent can contribute to the bridging the unemployment gap.

Innovation is a driver of economic growth. SMMEs are known for identifying solutions through the development and application of ideas and technologies that improve goods and services or make their production more efficient. Commercially viable solutions, products and ventures created by SMMEs have the ability to accelerate progression toward the sustainable development goals and economic transformation.

Given the importance of SMMEs, it is almost impossible to ignore the mounting challenges that affect them. A major impediment to the success of SMMEs and their contribution to the economic growth in Africa is access to finance. Without access to financial services, SMMEs lack the means to create goods and innovations that are crucial for achieving this economic growth.

As we look ahead into the next 10 years, Africa’s development priorities need to integrate the role of SMMEs as a pillar in the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals.

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