The Minister said this when he participated in a roundtable discussion at the 10th Public Sector Innovation Conference at the Cape Sun Southern Sun hotel on Tuesday.
He said the small business sector needs the support of government and big business in order to participate in the economy.
“The reality of the fact is that when you talk about innovation anywhere, big companies can innovate, but the biggest innovators are small companies,” he said.
Minister Cwele said there were several initiatives that were being rolled out at tertiary institutions where collaborations with several government institutions are being forged to incubate young people to help them to take their innovations to new heights.
“If they are given a chance to come up with ideas in a controlled environment with the support of the experts, this way we can turn their innovations into productive activities.
“Small is big in the innovation space,” he said.
The Minister was responding to a question on what government was doing to ensure that small businesses are receiving the necessary support to thrive and innovate.
He said the recently established Office of the Public Procurement Officer has also introduced innovations to make the cost of doing business cheaper.
For example, he said, through the Central Supplier Database, small companies can now register as suppliers and can apply for tenders without having to pay for tender documents.
Public Service and Administration Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi, who was also part of the panel, said the Central Supplier Database has also assisted government to centralise all government procurement and in the process, reduced corruption.
This new platform also allows government to advertise tenders through the eTenders portal.
He said government is biased towards small business and that Cabinet pronounced that 30% be set aside for small business.
The National Treasury will be making regulation changes to enable that, the Minister said.
Innovation improving the quality of education
Meanwhile, Thuli Radebe, the CEO of the Centre for Public Service Innovation, an entity that hosted the conference, said there were several innovations that she was proud of that have improved matric results at disadvantaged schools.
She said through the e-learning platform, one well-resourced school in Mpumalanga was connected to up to four destitute schools with the use of technology.
The schools then interacted with the main school through interactive boards and allowed the less advantaged students to gain valuable knowledge.
“The benefits there are very clear where schools have moved from 0% pass rate in maths and science to 99%,” she said.