MSMEs Are Paid After 3 Months or Not at All by Big Business & Government

By Ntokozo Nkambule

Khulekani Msweli, the founder of Jeremy Paul and Vuvulane Food Market says it is saddening that government and large institutions are quick to close down and auction their businesses due to unfulfilled obligations, yet these very institutions are responsible for this inefficiency due to delayed payments, or no payment at all.

Msweli was speaking yesterday during the World Micro Small & Medium Enterprises (MSME) Day celebration held at Mountain View, Mbabane.

The event was held in partnership with the International Trade Centre, the European Union, and the Ministry of Commerce Industry and Trade. 

The Jeremy Paul founder said the standard accepted payment structure is that big businesses or large corporations should be paying for services or products at least 30 days after delivery, but that does not happen.

“As MSMEs, we are battling a tide, which is something we should not be battling. We are stifled by late payments from big businesses and the government. We normally expect payment in 30 days, but in most cases, it exceeds to 60 days, then 90 days, and sometimes no payment at all.”

He said the delayed payments then leads to MSMEs facing challenges with their creditors.

“What then normally takes place is that most MSMEs who undertook a loan to do a certain project are faced with challenges as creditors want their money back. The result of course is the shutting down and auctioning of small businesses, which is not fair”

He dispelled the notion that most people running MSMEs are incapable or do not know what they are doing.

“It is quite interesting that the very same big institutions and government then rush to say that emaSwati running MSMEs are not capable or lack business acumen and skills, yet they are not being paid on time.”

He also disclosed that disturbingly small businesses, particularly vendors have not benefitted from the Reconstruction Fund which was aimed at assisting businesses that were affected during the looting and burning of structures that took place in the country.

Msweli said what is surprising is that most big businesses were already compensated.

“This is quite shocking because it is MSMEs that are keeping communities alive and employ a number of people in the country.”

In actual fact, the EU European Union’s chargé d’affaires Robert Adam in his address highlighted the importance of MSMEs in the country.

“In Eswatini there are more than 60 000 MSMEs, employing 93 000 people which is clear evidence of the importance of MSMEs in the country.”

The Minister of Commerce Industry and Trade, Manqoba Khumalo who was the guest speaker during the celebration acknowledged Msweli’s concerns and said they were working hard on rectifying them.

He said this is why they were working hard to ensure that the Citizens & Economic Empowerment Bill is passed by parliament very soon, as it will address a number of concerns affecting MSMEs.

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