SME survey focuses on power

Kimberly Guest
By Kimberly Guest, ITWeb contributor
Johannesburg, 04 Apr 2008

This year's SME survey will focus on the impact SA's infrastructure challenges are having on the country's small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

Speaking yesterday at the launch, the survey's research director and MD of World Wide Worx, Arthur Goldstuck, noted that power difficulties and traffic snarl-ups had already emerged as issues of concern for SMEs in the previous year.

"Before SA's rolling load-shedding began, the SMEs we spoke to were already expressing concern about the power infrastructure. Power failures came in at sixth place on the list of issues that gave managers sleepless nights," he noted.

However, the survey will not focus on the power portion of infrastructure difficulties alone.

"We will be asking about the physical environment in which the SME operates. It will include electricity, roads, traffic lights and congestion, transport costs and more. These environments are changing in front of our eyes and are having an impact on how SMEs are performing," said Goldstuck.

Survey co-sponsor Standard Bank is also factoring these effects into its risk management initiatives.

The financial institution's head of customer strategy for personal and business banking, Scott Gilmour, explained: "We're a little more wary in the latitude we are prepared to give to businesses, particularly in the SME sector. Small businesses, by their very nature, tend to be more vulnerable to these issues. We have pulled back a little."

Gilmour added the bank expected the survey to enable it to learn more about how SMEs are coping with the crisis. This would give it greater insight into the changing needs of clients so it could respond accordingly.