Access to finance problems for small retail businesses in South Africa: comparative views from finance seekers (retailers) and finance providers (banks)


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Small retail businesses are essential for the growth of the South African economy. Though many of these business entities need more assets to seize business opportunities, previous research studies suggest that their overall access to finance through banks and other finance providers seems to be limited. In general, small retail businesses are usually managed by entrepreneurs who lack financial knowledge, but banks, when deciding on credit applications, rely heavily on financial information, which is provided by these entrepreneurs. Notwithstanding the aforementioned, this study aimed to explore barriers that limit access to finance for South African small retailers, from the perspectives of finance providers (banking institutions) and finance seekers (small retailers). Additionally, measures were highlighted to show how those hurdles could be overcome. Qualitative research was conducted, whereby data were collected via semi-structured interviews with management personnel at banks and other financial institutions, as well as independent experts and small retail business owners and managers. The findings show that many financing opportunities are available to small retail businesses, but access to these opportunities is limited mainly owing to, inter alia, strict bank regulations and factors that are inherent to small retail business owners.

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    • Table 1. Literature review on finance accessibility for SA SMEs
    • Table 2. Outline of the views of finance providers and seekers
    • Table 3. Suggestions for stakeholders to overcome barriers to access to finance