Author(s): Dubihlela Jobo and Chikwati Phyllis
Maritime SMEs play a key role in South Africa’s results-driven approach to economic development, code-named ‘Operation Phakisa’; whose main aim is to address the triple bottom challenges of poverty, unemployment, and inequality. It is disdain that maritime SMEs face the dilemma of building good operating and governance structures while trying to foster ecoentrepreneurial spirit. Eco-entrepreneurship helps foster sustainable business operations driven by environmentally sensitive entrepreneurs. Many SMEs struggle to manage their operational sustainability due to high costs of ecological activities along the coastline, where they are exposed to entrepreneurial risks. A quantitative research approach was conducted to collect data by way of a purposive snowball sampling method used to identify maritime SMEs in Cape Town. Results show that maritime SMEs in Cape Town are exposed to substantial amount of entrepreneurial risks, deterring overall entrepreneurial performance, especially from the ecological and technological perspective. These entrepreneurial risks include environmental, technological, financial, market and strategic risks. In spite of their lack of experience, ecoentrepreneurs highly regard themselves as knowledgeable; and that they revealed awareness of social issues and related environmental risks. However, they do not have means and ways to resolve the issues. The results also indicate that although maritime SMEs have written policies that incorporate optimum levels of training on ecological importance, poor ethical standards are still prevalent within their operational environments. Surprisingly, these SMEs perceive social environment as an important factor to them within their business community. The findings in this study support ongoing body of research, having potential to seize opportunities, find solutions and possibly help eradicate vulnerability issues and enhance entrepreneurial risk mitigation. This paper adds value to research focused on the ocean economy, and also proposes possible future studies.