Import restrictions contributed to improved survival rate of Small Market Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) recording a survival rate of 92 percent against a target of 90 percent which was set by the Local Enterprises Authority (LEA). The Authority revealed that total turnover generated by the supported SMMEs increased by 52 percent from P495.6 million the previous year to P754.5 million during 2021/2022 financial year.

LEA Acting Chief Executive Officer, Godfrey Molefe stated that the organization graduated a total of 31 enterprises that are now ready to operate under minimal LEA direct mentorship compared to 24 the previous year. “The increase in annual turnover amid COVID-19 associated challenges is attributed to the authority’s heightened facilitation of market access opportunities, specifically the supply and COVID -19 related products and medical suppliers.

These markets proved to be able to sustain many enterprises for the period 2021 –2022.” The Manufacturing and Services sectors generated more turnovers, whilst agriculture was the lowest even though there were fewer services clients than agriculture. Molefe also pointed out that import substitution remains a critical component in stimulating local production of goods and services and to reduce importation of such. During the period a total of P236 million worth of import substitution was realized against the targeted P149.6 million.

“This was very critical especially in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic where it has proven difficult to import products and services from other countries.” The product list of targeted import substitution included products such as vegetables, aluminum products, hair products, honey production, leather products, water purification, yoghurts and processed fruits.

The performance represents growth of 123 percent from P105.7million attained the previous year. LEA board Chairperson, Lorato Ntakhwana stated that the performance of SMMEs is underpinned by the Authority’s rigorous efforts in maximising business opportunities presented by the imposed import restrictions on select commodities. “As a result of the Authority’s resolute business development and support services, LEA graduated 31 businesses compared to 24 during the year 2020-21.” A total of 1887 entrepreneurs were trained against a target of 1800. However, the Authority recorded a decline in the number of advanced interventions given to SMMEs, dropping from 136 in 2021 to 122 in 2022.