Exploring the sustainability of SMEs in the textile and clothing industry to create employment in South Africa
Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) are considered critical drivers of economic growth within economies, especially developing economies such as South Africa. In South Africa, SMEs create jobs for a semi-skilled and unskilled workforce who would otherwise be unemployed. However, SMEs' optimal contribution to employment creation is constrained by poor performance and a high failure rate. This study aimed to explore SMEs' sustainability in the textiles, clothing and leather goods industry to create employment in South Africa. Considering the groundwork on the neoclassical growth theory, this study was underpinned by an interpretivist research paradigm. An exploratory research design and qualitative research approach were adopted for this study. Data was collected through face-to-face interviews with ten participants who were selected using a purposive sampling technique. The data was analysed using thematic coding and content analysis. The result reveals that cheaper imports, lack of government support, lack of support of local production, lack of access to loans and finance, high crime rates, and inadequate electricity supply were significant challenges affecting SMEs' sustainability in the South African textiles, clothing and leather goods industry. The study recommended that the South African government implement safeguard measures, especially on Chinese imports, and promote locally made textiles, clothing and leather goods to consumers, which will go a long way to enhance SMEs' sustainability in the textiles, clothing and leather goods industry. Suggestions for future research were also provided.