By Phiwa Sikhondze
“I genuinely believe it would cost us nothing to register a business,” these words were uttered by the Minister of Commerce Industry and Trade, Manqoba Khumalo when responding to local entrepreneurs who voiced their concerns on the registration process of starting a business in the country.
The appeal was made by an entrepreneur during the Bizniz-in-a-Box initiative award ceremony. The initiative is a partnership between Eswatini Coca-Cola Beverages and Business Eswatini and aims to empower and assist local entrepreneurs in the food industry by offering them access to markets, training, and mentorship.
The entrepreneur who was one of the 8 winners of the initiative, said that he had been struggling to operate his business without any proper equipment. He thanked ECCB and Business Eswatini for the opportunity and the support they had given him.
He said that the mobile kitchen would enable him to improve his products and services, increase his sales and profits, and create more jobs for himself and others.
However, he also highlighted some of the challenges that he and other entrepreneurs face in the country, especially in terms of registering their businesses. He said that the registration process was lengthy, costly, and complicated and that it discouraged many potential entrepreneurs from starting or formalizing their businesses.
“We have been struggling, it is not easy to run a street market without any proper material. Minister of Commerce, Sir, there is a big challenge, there is a loud outcry from other entrepreneurs out there. We are looking forward to the government to continue supporting us, especially on the company registration part, which is very important. Another challenge I have seen as an entrepreneur is that we do have businesses, but registration is a challenge due to financial requirements. We appeal for a review of the registration fees and process,” he said.
The Minister of Commerce, Industry, and Trade, Manqoba Khumalo, who was present at the award ceremony, responded to Dlamini’s plea and promised to address the issue of business registration.
He said that he believed that it would cost the government nothing to register a business and that it was in the government’s interest to facilitate the growth of MSMEs, as they contribute to employment generation, poverty alleviation, and economic diversification.
“I genuinely believe, it would cost us nothing to register a business. So, this is our assignment to not create artificial barriers for young people who want to start businesses. From the businesses’ struggle, the return to government is huge. So, to prohibit people from running a business in the context of our economy doesn’t make sense. Even though the procedures are cast in law, my promise is that we will change that law. We can deal with this unemployment issue. Amazingly, we have all these schemes and funds to support small and medium-sized businesses. So, this is one of the things that I want us to work together on as BE and government as we try to transform this particular landscape,” Khumalo said.
The Bizniz-in-a-Box initiative is a partnership between ECCB and Business Eswatini, which aims to empower and assist MSMEs in the country by offering them access to markets, training, and mentorship.