South African business incubators and reducing the SME failure rate – A literature review

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Small business failure is one of the biggest challenges faced by developing countries, and business incubators have been touted as a solution to reducing the failure rate of these small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Thus, the number of business incubators has escalated worldwide, including South Africa. Consequently, significant time has been devoted to researching business incubators and their role in SME success. However, the effectiveness of these incubators is still in question, thus a study is being conducted to determine how effective business incubators are in reducing the failure rate of SMEs.
The findings show that there are some improvements in SMEs that have been incubated or supported, but not enough to make a dent on the failure rate at the country level, as the failure rate has stubbornly remained the same. One of the concerning key findings is that there is a misalignment between the goals of business incubators (BIs) and the SMEs’ needs. SMEs are looking for access to finance and access to markets, while BIs are offering office space and other support services.
BI and SME goals need to be more aligned if we are to effectively enhance small business development interventions and reduce current failure rates. More empirical research is still needed to measure and quantify the effectiveness of BIs to SME failure rates, as no research has attempted to link a business incubator to both the success of individual SMEs and the country’s SME failure rate.

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    • Conceptualization
      Jabulile Msimango-Galawe, Elona N. Hlatshwayo
    • Formal Analysis
      Jabulile Msimango-Galawe, Elona N. Hlatshwayo
    • Investigation
      Jabulile Msimango-Galawe, Elona N. Hlatshwayo
    • Methodology
      Jabulile Msimango-Galawe, Elona N. Hlatshwayo
    • Writing – original draft
      Jabulile Msimango-Galawe, Elona N. Hlatshwayo
    • Writing – review & editing
      Jabulile Msimango-Galawe