SMEs say high crime rate a major worry

Crime is one of the major concerns for small businesses, according to new research. It shows that 27percent of respondents indicate it is what keeps them awake at night.

Crime is one of the major concerns for small businesses, according to new research. It shows that 27percent of respondents indicate it is what keeps them awake at night.

This is one of the main findings of the fifth annual Small-to Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) Survey 2007. The final results will be announced next month. SMEs account for about 25percent of South Africa's businesses.

The survey includes the results of what business conditions concern SMEs. About 5200 SMEs were canvassed with 140 cross-tabulated questions.

Arthur Goldstuck, principal researcher for SME Survey, says: "The overriding worry for SME owners is the high crime rate.

"Security has substantial financial implications for all businesses - and there is also the business confidence factor to consider. A high crime rate is not a business confidence-booster.

"Crime and cash flow were the biggest stand-out points, far above anything else," says Goldstuck.

He adds: "Cash flow was a concern for 19percent of SMEs."

Debtors worried 13percent of SMEs. Their ability to successfully recoup outstanding debts took high priority. Competition gave 12percent of SME owners sleepless nights, 11percent cited power failures and interest rates as a factor, followed by labour law at eight percent, traffic problems at six percent, ability to pay wages at four percent and rent for business premises at three percent.

"Crime in the retail sector as well as losses due to transportation were prominent factors," Goldstuck says.

"If we break down the crime situation by business sector, it's a real problem for retailers at 34 percent, manufacturers at 31percent and the construction and utility sectors at 26percent. We're seeing small business concerns reflected in the headlines about crime in the media.

"In terms of statistics for variation between business sectors, any figure over two percent is considered significant, obviously rising with the value of that number."

The survey is sponsored by Standard Bank and Fujitsu Siemens Computers.

X