SME Survival : Overcoming Sustainability Challenges

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) play a pivotal role in driving economic growth, creating jobs, and decentralizing money pockets in communities of the world.
In Cameroon, the creation of SMEs has been facilitated by the Government enabling the erecting of some 15,601 last year, 2022. The birth of companies is exponential with new ones coming up every other year. These small scale sector enterprises enjoy a numerical growth but worries abound as to their sustainability, viability and objective attainment.
It is possible to create a SME between one and six weeks in Cameroon depending on its scale. With regards to the ease, the system is called one-stop-shop. Incidentally, some 50 per cent of the small scale sector operators in the country are the youth. The SMEs’ yearly turnover was recently noted by the Minister in charge of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, Social Economy and Handicraft (French acronym, MINPTMEESA), Achille Bassilekin III, at a public conference to have risen from 9.6 per cent in 2021 to 17.7 per cent in 2022. For the main, the tax department and local Councils are chief regulators of the functioning of SMEs in Cameroon.
Cameroon’s economy is vastly driven by SMEs reportedly counting 99.7 per cent of business volume. Considering the evolution of the SME sector and basing on local realities, the 2010 law on SMEs was revised in 2016. As such, The Law Number 2015/010 of 16 July, 2015, which amended and supplemented some past provisions, redefined a SME as any company, whatever its sector of activity, which employs no more than 100 persons and whose annual turnover excluding taxes does not exceed FCFA three billion.
If there were 15,601 new SMEs in Cameroon functioning properly last year, it may imply that just employing half of the staff ceiling of 100 persons should have earned some 780,050 new jobs for Cameroonians. But it may not have been the case as joblessness still looms over with many of the enterprises unable to be sustained in the “business jungle”.      
Industrial Sickness 
Unfortunately, many enterprises have remained in suitcases, poorly conceived, or simply badly managed. These ills called industrial sickness have rendered a bulk of the enterprises extinct sooner or later after creation. Experts have studied economic sustainability and identified various causes of industrial sickness. Some business units are born sick from poor planning. Some sicknesses may have been thrust upon by the environment, and others may have turned towards sickness due to dishonest reasons. The dynamic economic factors and the external influence greatly affect the economic sustainability of the industry. Every commonly held business unit may have different reasons for its bankruptcy. However, the most prevalent causes of failure can be categorized into two groups namely, internal and external causes. In recent times, economic experts have opinionated key hurdles to the functioning of SMEs in Cameroon like elsewhere to include the rigid regulatory environment of red tapes and corruption, difficult access to financing, poor cash flow and delayed or non-payment of supplies and services.   
Key objectives of the existence of SMEs, also known as small-scale sectors, generally include producing fast-rate job opportunities with little investment, making money and liberalising the economy. Equally, they promote exports and eliminate economic regional differences in the country. The SMEs promote development in small cities and villages and minimize inequalities in consumption, wealth, and income. They are supposed to organise efficiently and utilize skills as well as capital related resources to the maximum. In their activities, SMEs should enhance riches in rural and less progressive areas of the country. As small scale sectors of the economy, their regular earning source should be guaranteed for underprivileged people in urban and rural areas. Also chiefly important is the fact that SMEs make available the substitutes for industrial products otherwise imported at the cost of capital flight. 
Yet many SMEs in Cameroon are today a thrust in the failure bracket meaning that they quickly become bankrupt with accumulated losses, poor performance and miscarriages in generating internal surplus. On a continuous basis, such small-scale sectors depend for their survival upon frequent infusion of external funds. When such SMEs begin their nose dive, specific symptoms are counted to include inappropriate utilisation of resources, and high rejection rate of manufactured goods. Also on the balance of ruin are such business errors as regular overuse of cash credit facilities, constant inconsistency prevailing in cash, failure to pay sta...



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