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Environmental sustainability management in the small business sector: a case of Pietermaritzburg small, medium and micro enterprises.

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The present study examines the environmental sustainability management in the small business sector with specific reference to the Pietermaritzburg area. As a business sector the Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) have impact that can be negative or positive on the environment. Few studies, in the subject area that the researcher have explored, have focused on the environmental sustainability management of SMMEs. For that reason, this study in its own humble way, contributes to the expansion of scholarship and literature in the area. The study has aimed to understand the measures taken by South African SMMEs to minimise and or prevent the negative impact they might have on the environment. Factors that motivate environmental preservation and protection by SMMEs have also been examined in this study as well as those factors or challenges that hinder the SMMEs from engaging in environmentally sustainable business practices. Methodologically, the study adopted a qualitative approach to investigate the opinions, perceptions and experiences of environmental sustainability of the practitioners of business in the SMME sector in the area of Pietermaritzburg as unit within the South African small business landscape. The qualitative methodological strategy of convenience sampling was deployed to collect data from 21 SMMEs in the elected area. Primary data was obtained through the use of face-to-face semi-structured interviews. The interviews were transcribed and duly analysed using thematic analysis. Further, 7 articles were selected for review using a PRISMA method for secondary data. The results of the study indicated that the owners and managers of SMMEs in Pietermaritzburg have understanding and knowledge of the necessity for environmental sustainability management and they pursuantly engage is practices that foster environmental sustainability. They engage in recycling of resources and they try to use eco-friendly and recyclable products. Like other businesses, SMMEs are driven by a profit motive; in particular they receive revenue from selling the recyclables and build a good business image. The results of the study also indicated that some SMMEs lag behind in implementing environmental practices because of lack of resources including finance. The lack of knowledge, limited education and lack of government support are a hindrance. The study concluded that the SMMEs are aware of the fundamentals of environmental sustainability management and are largely willing to comply with the requirements although they encounter challenges and limitations on their way. They need governmental support in form of finance, education and encouragement.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.