Minister of Trade Sosten Gwengwe has faulted small and medium enterprises (SMEs) for failing to get government business despite the availability of the law that provides for preferential treatment to small businesses.
The minster’s concern comes six months after the Ministry of Trade gazetted the Control of Goods Act and the SME Order, which stipulates certain preferential business awards to small businesses.
In an interview, Gwengwe said SMEs are not forthcoming to take up the businesses with government.
He said: “Government’s job is to create an enabling environment, but SMEs must demand what is legally theirs in line with SME Order 2020 from MDAs [ministries, departments and agencies] and councils.
“SMEs should be more aggressive SMEs should be more aggressive and demand their share to benefit from the opportunities created for them by the government”.
But in a written response, Black Indigenous Business Network national coordinator Kettie Kamwangala described Gwengwe’s statement as “not entirely true, observing that the system is frustrating them.
National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises national coordinator William Mwale, however, admitted that SMEs are not fully prepared to handle regular government orders amid Covid-19 challenges.
Speaking separately, Chamber of Small and Medium Businesses Association executive secretary James Chiutsi said lack of skills and access to finance has been hindering SMEs to participate in government business.