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SMEs can create decent jobs

THE Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) has said the promotion of the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) can be used to create decent employment. THE Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) says the promotion of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) can be used to create decent employment.

COMESA SME Toolkit Programme Coordinator, Edwin Zulu said SMEs worldwide are the engine of the economy through which the benefits of the country’s economic gains could be distributed.

Mr. Zulu said SMEs can create self employment by providing formal employment or by basically engaging in their own business activities.

He said the SME sector in Zambia accounts for over 80 percent of the economy, including the national food and agriculture productivity.

Mr. Zulu explained that most western countries have built their strong production bases on the SME sector and doing so has made their economies stable.

“Over 90 percent of the economy in Europe, China and America was in the hands of the SME sector,” he said

He said SMEs were important because they directly contribute to empowering local entrepreneurs by facilitating job creation.

Mr. Zulu said it has already been acknowledged across the world that the SME sector is the backbone of any economy and job creation should be centred on it.

He Zulu explained that SMEs plays a critical role in enhancing sustainable economic growth and could create employment in the country both direct and indirectly.

“When I talk of indirect employment, it means that most of the SMEs are owned by individuals or families,” Mr. Zulu said.

And Mr. Zulu said the minimum wage should be handled with care as it has recently attracted increases in transport fares and food prices.

Mr. Zulu said with the coming of the minimum wage, it is a good step to establish sectorial minimum wage areas as there was no need of putting in policies that cause confusion in the country.

“A shopkeeper in Shoprite or Game stores cannot be treated equal to a shopkeeper of an SME because there are on two different levels. We need to be serious when addressing these issues because the output and the input are entirely different,” he said.

Mr. Zulu urged government to deal with the minimum wage issue more carefully so that both the employers and employees benefit from it.

The SME Toolkit Zambia is a project of the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Department of the World Bank Group, ELIF Business Solutions (ELIF, formerly Step Out media communications), and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern African Countries (COMESA).

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