College of Law and Management Studies

The Graduate School of Business and Leadership’s (GSB&L) Champions participated in the first provincial social economy policy consultation process this week. The national Economic Development Department in partnership with the ILO has developed a Green Paper to strengthen and stimulate South Africa’s social economy.

The participants at the first pilot Provincial Consultation were largely from the Social Entrepreneur Programme, The Champions Programme. These 35 social entrepreneurs from across KwaZulu-Natal shared their reactions and recommendations on the proposed policy interventions. Their input will be used to inform the process of the social economy policy team which will facilitate the provincial consultations whose data will contribute to the formulation of the policy.

‘The goal is to streamline our economy to enable social entrepreneurs to run their businesses easily and to promote innovation for the public good. Research is the key to achieving this goal and we are grateful to UKZN for supporting this initiative. Through understanding the issues that social entrepreneurs face, we can strengthen our policies to stimulate the economy,’ said Ms Kerryn Krige, Social Economy Policy Team member.

The nominated Champions were asked to share insights on the following themes identified from a draft Green Paper written after several consultation sessions in 2018:

  • Sizing and scoping the sector: What is the social economy, and how do we define and measure it?
  • Financial inclusion and resourcing: How do we innovate existing mechanisms to better fund and resource the social economy?
  • Access to markets: Where are the gaps and opportunities in supply chains that can be strengthened to support the social economy?
  • Legal and regulatory: What is the most appropriate legal and regulatory framework for social economy enterprises? Do we need a specific legal form for social enterprises?
  • New economies and innovation: What can we do to position the social economy to be innovative, and respond to future needs?

Krige said the input was very valuable. Social entrepreneurs appreciated the fact that the government is consulting them before adopting a policy.

‘The discussion focused on the definition of a social economy and participants confirmed that the Policy Team were on the right track. The social entrepreneurs also highlighted rural social enterprises whose input was important. They also commented that funding should not only be about the government giving money but also about capacitating them with resources. Issues were raised around data access for the fourth Industrial Revolution. Champions also felt that social entrepreneurs need to be freed from bureaucratic regulations.

‘The consultations are expected to take six to nine months, after which the Green Paper will go to cabinet for approval,’ Krige said.

Facilitator of the Champions Programme, Professor Shahida Cassim said that it is encouraging that the government is listening to voices from the ground.

‘The feedback from our Champions has been positive and they make sound comments. The consultations captured the real challenges facing social entrepreneurs and their input reflected how they as practitioners relate to the policy,’ said Cassim.

Words: Thandiwe Jumo
Photograph: Albert Hirasen