MBALI Conference Addresses Pertinent Small Business Issues

The Faculty of Commerce, Administration and Law at the University of Zululand (UNIZULU) has once again organised an exceptional Management, Business, Administration and Legal Initiatives (MBALI) Entrepreneurship Symposium which aims to address the plight of small business owners.

The MBALI Entrepreneurship Symposium began on Wednesday, 13 September 2017, and ended on Thursday, 14 September.

The Symposium was held at the Protea Hotel, Waterfront Richards Bay.

Now in its second year, this year’s Symposium has immensely transformed from its inaugural event; with the focus having shifted from presenting research papers to deriving practical solutions to address challenges faced by small business owners in the northern Zululand region and South Africa at large.

In his opening address, Professor Dev Tewari, Dean of the Faculty of Commerce, Administration and Law at UNIZULU, said that the Faculty’s objective was to establish a network comprised of national, provincial and local government; Zululand Chamber of Commerce; private companies; community formations; emerging and established local entrepreneurs as well as the University. This body, elaborated Prof Tewari, would exchange ideas, transfer knowledge and eventually work towards the development of small businesses in the region.

Makhosazana Magigaba, a Lecturer in the Department of Business Management and Economics at UNIZULU, who was also the Programme Director during the symposium, added, “Among the objectives of the symposium is to see the up and running of an entrepreneurship centre within the University. In as much as we are trying to pull some work to assist our co-operatives and the businesses around, we want to have a formal structure which people will associate with the University. We want to make a mark that we are here, we exist and we want to be visited by surrounding communities.”

From the points raised by the various speakers, it was evident that boosting emerging businesses was at the centre of many sectors in the country.

Councillor Thamsanqa Phahla, who was speaking on behalf of the Mayor of the City of uMhlathuze, said that the Municipality takes local entrepreneurs extremely seriously as they play an important role in driving the economy. Phahla added that the municipality is committed to supporting small businesses and envisions itself as a one-stop-shop for Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs). Among the plans of the municipality, said Councillor Phahla, is the establishment of two SMME hubs in Richards Bay as well as Esikhaleni, concluding by saying that he hopes a relationship will be forged between UNIZULU and the City of uMhlathuze in order to effect positive changes in the Zululand region.

Dr Thami Mazwai, Special Advisor to the Minister of Small Business Development, was also in support of the formation of partnerships with the higher education sector; saying that the sector has the necessary academic pool to effect changes required by society. Owing to the high fatality rate of small businesses in South Africa in the past, Dr Mazwai said that his Ministry has since its development in 2015 been working on altering this. Some of the changes that were required were in the running of Local Economic Development (LED) offices, Dr Mazwai said, explaining that appropriate staff were needed to address the various needs of small businesses as the “one-size-fits-all approach” to SMMEs simply did not work.

– Naledi Hlefane

Pictured: Dr Thami Mazwai, Special Advisor to the Minister of Small Business Development, during his address at the MBALI Entrepreneurship Symposium.