Challenges facing small and medium enterprises in Manzini, Swaziland.
Hlatshwako, Patience Lungile.
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The economic environment is rapidly changing worldwide. Large corporations are downsizing and big enterprises are outsourcing. This has made the existence of Small and medium enterprises (SMEs), to be of critical importance to many nations. These enterprises play a vital role in the economic growth of their communities through job creation, innovation, poverty reduction and improving the general welfare of citizens. Although SMEs play a crucial role, there are a number of challenges that hinder them from performing up to their full potential. It is disturbing to note that a number of small and medium businesses are struggling to survive and those that are not struggling, are also not growing to become big well established enterprises. This suggests that a better understanding of how to improve performance may be necessary hence a review of the underlying factors affecting their development and performance of SMEs is required. This study was undertaken to explore the challenges facing SMEs in the Manzini region of Swaziland. The main aim was to investigate factors that contribute to the success or failure of these enterprises. The research was conducted in the Manzini city centre and a sample of 25 SMEs was selected. The qualitative approach was used for the collection of data because this study sought to gain better understanding of small businesses from the participants’ point of view. Semi-structured interviews were used to collect data and an interview schedule was used to guide the interviews. The findings of the study reveal that lack of access to financial resources, competition and high operating costs were found to be the major challenges faced by SMEs. The findings also indicate that the SMEs are not getting enough support from the government and other development agencies. It is believed that this study will benefit the policy makers, development agencies, and service providers by information that will assist in identifying the challenges facing SMEs in Manzini. It is recommended that the government play a leading role in creating an enabling environment for the development of successful SMEs.