Decision-makers at small and medium enterprises based in the Johannesburg area regard their companies as being far more competitive than do those in the country's three other major centres.
This is one of the fascinating findings to emerge from SME Survey 2004, conducted earlier with the support of Hewlett-Packard and Standard Bank. The headline findings, released earlier this year, showed that South African SMEs in general regard themselves as competitive, with 58% giving themselves ratings of extremely competitive and 28% somewhat competitive.
The release of the final SME Survey 2004 report, recently, includes detailed drill-downs into the findings, breaking them down by industry sector, area, gender of decision-maker, and size of company, among a range of demographics.
"It was not entirely unexpected that Johannesburg businesses would regard themselves as more competitive, but the size of the gap was startling," says
Arthur Goldstuck, MD of World Wide Worx, who led the research on behalf of the SME Survey. "No less than 62% of Johannesburg respondents described their businesses as extremely competitive, against 54% of those from Pretoria, and 46% of those from both Cape Town and Durban."
Pretoria businesses were the most negative about how well Government promotes SME competitiveness, with 12% saying Government was doing a good job, against 9% for all respondents. Only 8% of Johannesburg respondents were positive, and 6% for both Cape Town and Durban.
Equally fascinating was the gender difference in attitudes: 61% of female respondents viewed their businesses as extremely competitive, against 57% if male respondents. And 10% of female respondents thought government was doing a good job of promoting SME competitiveness, versus 7% for males.
Internet connectivity also made a difference: 64% of those respondents using
ADSL to connect to the Internet regarded their businesses as highly competitive, versus 54% of those with traditional dial-up connections.
"What came as a great surprise, on the other hand, was that companies that had no Internet connection did not regard themselves as disadvantaged in this respect," says Goldstuck. "They had almost the same confidence level as ADSL users, with 62% of respondents with no Internet connection regarding themselves as extremely competitive. Having a connection is not the differentiator, clearly, but once you are connected, the form of that connection can make a big difference."
SME Survey 2004, an annual research project on the factors influencing small, medium and micro enterprises in South Africa, this year focused on the role of government, information technology and financial services on SMEs. The project was backed by Hewlett-Packard and Standard Bank, and included interviews with 2919 SME decision-makers during March and April 2004. The research was led by Arthur Goldstuck, MD of World Wide Worx, call centre research services were provided by Netsurit, and strategic marketing and project management services provided by Debbie Whittaker of Coolcumba Communications and Celeste Whitaker of Fizz Marketing. The survey is a project of SME Survey.
For more information contact Arthur Goldstuck at World Wide Worx on 011 782 7003