Sustaining small businesses in emerging economies: an examination of the pre and post startup ramifications

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Set in the Western Province of South Africa, this study is centred on a group of small business owners who received financial support from a leading South African business developer. The main aims were to obtain from the recipients what they envisaged as their main challenges, and to compare those challenges at a later stage to get a better understanding of the real challenges of small business pre and post startup. The ultimate benefit will be to report on these to inform practitioners and researchers so that every stakeholder can have a fresher insight into this phenomenon with the hope that much more concrete discussions and interventions may emerge. This longitudinal study adopted the mixed method, specifically the use of a questionnaire and a semi-structured interview schedule. This method enabled the researcher to gain a better understanding of the issues at play with respect to first time recipients of funds, as well as engage intimately with them in order to obtain salient information regarding challenges of small business pre and post business startup. Interestingly, most participants indicated that almost all the items in the questionnaire were major challenges. This study should not only generate the necessary discussions among practitioners and scholars on small business growth constraints in South Africa, but, at the same time, uncover through such discussions, some of the undocumented challenges of small businesses in emerging markets so that the chances of survival of small businesses beyond the 2-3 year mark are improved.

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    • Fig. 1. Breakdown of participants’ profile
    • Fig. 2. Mean (major challenges)
    • Fig. 3. Major challenges versus minor challenges - comparison based on gender
    • Fig. 4. Major challenges versus minor challenges - comparison based on marital status
    • Fig. 5. Major challenges versus minor challenges - comparison based on funds received
    • Table 1. Recommendations to improve entrepreneurship in South Africa
    • Table 2. Questionnaire items
    • Table 3. Fund recipients’ businesses
    • Table 4. Responses per item (major challenges versus minor challenges)