World Economic Forum (WEF): Sage CEO laments absence of small business issues at Davos


JOHANNESBURG20161117164841, South Africa, January 16, 2017/ —

  • CEO Stephen Kelly says small businesses still being ignored by policy makers as big business flocks to Davos
  • Sage launches Forum for Business Builders to give entrepreneurs a voice

Global research by Sage ( highlights that only 33% of small businesses feel represented by politicians in their country’s decision making. The data has been published in the run up to the annual World Economic Forum (WEF) where politicians and big business will gather in Davos to debate the global economic picture. Sage CEO Stephen Kelly has lamented the absence of small business issues from the agenda, and called for greater representation, given that in most economies entrepreneurs, or business builders, creates 2/3 of all jobs.

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The research measured sentiment of small businesses in 2016, showing that:

  • The majority (58%) consider the wider global economy to be less stable and (69%) either have or are considering changing their business plan as a result of recent events.
  • 22% of businesses are planning to export more in 2017, 10% less and 25% felt there would be no change. 
  • 31% of businesses think turnover will remain constant or remain the same over the next year.    

Clearly the role of government in helping navigate uncertain economic and political times will be key. 

  • Almost half (46%) singled out export opportunities and grants as being the most important thing that the government can now do.
  • The second most important was improvements to the tax environment (38%).
  • Good local services ranked third (26%).

In order to give business builders a platform to connect with policy makers, Sage is launching its ‘Forum for Business Builders’. The Forum brings entrepreneurs from around the world insights, events and policy-forming partnerships to give them a powerful collective voice that can be heard on the world stage.

Anton van Heerden, Managing Director and Executive Vice-President, Africa & Middle East at Sage, adds: “We’re seeing an uptake of entrepreneurial drive throughout the African continent, with many people starting out on their own to build businesses that serve the community, create jobs, and raise income levels. Sometimes, this demands great financial and personal sacrifice on their part.”

Sage CEO Stephen Kelly, said: “Only too often when the world’s policy makers discuss the global economic picture, small businesses are excluded from the discussion. This is most evident with the annual World Economic Forum in Davos where small businesses aren’t an item on the agenda. Worse still, 60% don’t even know the event is taking place. It’s crazy when you consider that small businesses create two thirds of all the jobs in most economies, and represent over 98% of all businesses.”

Kelly continues: “Business builders are the heroes of the economy. They toil away long after the rest of us have gone home, making personal sacrifices to grow their businesses, to support their families and build their communities. Policy makers and big business must wake up to the fact that these heroes need to be supported and given a voice, if we are to ensure the future health and prosperity of the world’s economy.”

Concludes van Heerden: “We are the champion of small businesses. They are fuelled by a passion for improving their lives and helping their communities. It is encouraging to see African governments recognising just how central they are to the continent’s growth story.”

The Forum is open to all small businesses and will be refreshed regularly with diverse content and insights from guest contributors and advisors.

About Sage:
Sage ( is the market and technology leader for integrated accounting, payroll and payment systems, supporting the ambition of entrepreneurs and business builders. Today, business builders measure success in strong relationships, partnerships, and communities. It‘s why Sage helps drive today’s business builders with the most intelligent and flexible cloud-enabled software, support and advice to manage everything from money to people. Daily, more than 13,000 Sage colleagues in 23 countries work with a thriving global community of over 3 million entrepreneurs, business owners, tradespeople, accountants, partners and developers to champion the success of business builders everywhere. And as a FTSE 100 business, we are passionate about doing business the right way, supporting our local communities through the Sage Foundation.

Sage – the market and technology leader for integrated accounting, payroll and payment systems, powered by the cloud and supporting the ambition of the world’s entrepreneurs and business builders. Because when business builders do well, we all do.
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