It takes sound financial awareness, advice and planning to grow a small business into a company that can afford to employ others and make a positive contribution to South Africa’s economy, says John Manyike, head of financial education at Old Mutual.
“If we are to defeat the Goliath of poverty, unemployment and inequality in South Africa, then we must make everyone in South Africa aware of the importance of financial planning and the value of financial advice,” he says. “We will only get the economy of our country growing again for the betterment of all if every one of us learns to plan and manage our finances properly, whether we are wage or salary earners or entrepreneurs.”
Manyike welcomes Financial Planning Week for this reason. “It’s a week that highlights and helps to spread the message that people who are financially literate and who understand the importance of proper financial planning are more likely to make informed financial decisions or economically rational decisions.”
Manyike believes that the principles of good money management must be taken more seriously by individuals, families, communities, and our country as a whole.
He points out that every February many South Africans are glued to the Minister of Finance’s Budget Speech and express their opinions on where and how the government should collect and spend our tax money. “We should scrutinise our own finances in the same way,” he says. “Every individual and every small business owner should spend time with a financial adviser to draw up a budget outline for the year, and then be accountable to themselves for every cent spent.”
Ideally, he adds, financial planning should be built on financial literacy. “When you have a good grasp of the basic principles of money management, you will understand the financial planning process better and the financial needs and analysis conversations between you and your adviser will be more meaningful and more productive.”
Small businesses are playing an increasingly vital role in growing our economy, but Manyike believes much more can be done to increase their positive impact and their potential for igniting prosperity.
“Entrepreneurship represents an opportunity for South Africans to break out of generational poverty,” he says. “But entrepreneurs and start-ups need financial support – both in the form of loans and in the form of mentorships and advice.”
“In fact, to successfully move from an entrepreneur’s business idea to a full-scale business that contributes to the local economy requires an incredible amount of effort, money, resources, and tenacity. The key is to couple this with sound financial literacy and advice. To grow a young entrepreneur’s business, and in turn to grow South Africa’s economy, requires skills development, and solid, long-term financial planning every step of the way.”
Providing financial education to women entrepreneurs has proved particularly valuable, he says. “Women tend to be naturally good at networking, and at sharing their knowledge and skills with their families, friends and communities. By helping one woman to become financially literate, we often find we have indirectly helped educate a whole community, including the youth of that community, which bodes well for their financial future.”
The sooner we can reduce our high unemployment rate (54%, according to Stats SA) the better. Over and above the obvious social benefits of more jobs, there are the long-term and far-reaching benefits of increased national savings.