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A business sustainability framework for community pharmaceutical SMEs in South Africa, Gauteng Province.

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Community pharmaceutical Small to medium enterprises (SMEs) play a key role the world over and for South Africa, their role is more felt as the sector contributes to employment creation as well as boosting the gross domestic product. While they play such a key role, these community pharmaceutical SMEs often face insurmountable sustainability challenges ultimately undermining their growth and profitability. This study focuses on the community pharmaceutical SMEs of South Africa, following a published report by pharmaceutical boards that most community pharmacies were closing down or scaling down their operations due to sustainability challenges. The community pharmaceutical SMEs sector of South Africa is a significant business sector within the economy in terms of employment creations and poverty alleviation. Thus, the purpose of the study was to develop a sustainability framework for community pharmaceutical SMEs of South Africa in Gauteng province using a mixed research design with an online questionnaire of the quantitative study administered to 322 pharmacies selected through random sampling from a population of 1114 The qualitative design included in depth interviews conducted on 8 community pharmaceutical SME owners selected through purposive sampling. The Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS 24) was used to analyze the quantitative data while qualitative data were analyzed through thematic analysis and NVIVO 12 Pro. The findings revealed that managerial factors, policymaking (rules and regulations), harsh economic conditions, access to finance, medication price hikes and competition due to location were the most severe challenges hindering sustainability of SMEs in the Gauteng province of South Africa. In addition, strategy problem, lack of financial literacy and marketing as well as lack of financial background by owner and managers further hindered sustainability of community pharmacy. Drawing from these findings, the study recommended that an introduction to managerial courses would assist managers greatly on how to manage community pharmacies, additionally policy makers needs to look into location challenges of these community pharmacies to avoid price fixing and unwarranted competition. Moreover, an establishment of remissions and rebates together with relaxed borrowing regulations will open opportunity to access finance to boost growth and sustainability. It is further recommended that there is a need to introduce a financial management course that looks into enterprising at a master’s degree level for those that wish to get into business in order to circumvent lack of financial background which seems to be one of the major reasons why these community pharmacies were not sustainable. In closing, the study developed and recommended the use of a conceptual community pharmaceutical framework towards ensuring business sustainability.


Doctoral Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.