Development of sustainable SMEs: conceptualized criteria for measuring the sustainability of youth-owned small retail businesses in selected rural areas of South Africa


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High failure rates among youth-owned small retail businesses has prompted the need for strengthening sustainability in the sector. The current paper sought to establish a framework for use in determining youth-owned small retail business sustainability. An exploratory mixed study approach was followed (qualitative and quantitative methods). Snowball and cluster sampling procedures were utilized to select respondents. Data were collected using semi-structured interview guides and close ended questionnaires. Qualitative data was analyzed using the Atlas.ti version 7 software network techniques, while the IBM SPSS version 25 techniques were utilized to generate quantitative results. Principal component analysis outcomes reflected that the framework for measuring youth-owned small retail business sustainability comprises 6 major components. The components included security measures (18.01%), outsourcing abilities (13.70%), marketing strategies (10.07%), risk management (8.54%), financial management (8.43%) and innovation (7.89%). The six pillars of the criteria were utilized to further develop time specific indices that were expressed in the following formula: R1 = ƒ (SM1, OA1, MS1, RM1, FM1, I1, S1) + e. Based on this formula, the sustainability of youth-owned small retail businesses can be assessed based on the six pillars on the right side of the equation and other subjective attributes at a particular time. The current study provided a framework that can be used by managers and practitioners to determine key sustainability building blocks of youth-owned small retail business at a particular time and track how they change over time.

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    • Figure 1. Network diagram showing threat detection and prevention sustainability attributes of youth-owned small retail businesses
    • Figure 2. Network diagram of adaptation sustainability drivers of youth-owned small retailers
    • Figure 3. Conceptualized criteria for measuring youth-owned small retail business sustainability (S6)
    • Table 1. Major sustainability attributes based on principal component analysis with Varimax rotation (N = 255)
    • Table 2. Indices for measuring small retail business sustainability