Author(s): Kgahliso Maoto
To date, the performance of small and medium sized enterprises in South Africa has unfortunately been inadequate to fully address the existing high levels of unemployment. The effects of unemployment on society vary but are felt by disabled persons the most as they tend to face greater challenges when trying to overcome unemployment. Starting a business is an option out of unemployment. This study provides an overview on how entrepreneurial capabilities, entrepreneurial networks, and innovation collectively serve as gateways to enhance the performance of disabled individuals managing small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in South Africa. At the heart of this research is the exploration of the critical role played by entrepreneurial capabilities. Specifically, management skills, adaptability, and resilience emerge as essential components for disabled entrepreneurs. Through specialized training and mentorship, these capabilities enable disabled entrepreneurs to not only address disability-specific challenges but also navigate the ever-changing landscape of entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurial networks act as catalysts for disabled entrepreneurs to connect, share, and access vital resources. Networks that include mentors, peers, and business associations provide practical guidance and emotional support, fostering increased confidence and competence. Recognizing the transformative power of these networks is crucial for building an inclusive ecosystem. Innovation emerges as a key driver of competitiveness for disabled SME owners. This extends beyond product development to encompass assistive technologies, inclusive design practices, and solutions that enhance accessibility. Disabled entrepreneurs who embrace innovation contribute not only to their own business success but also to broader societal goals, such as social inclusion. The study applied systematic literature review based on books, peer reviewed articles, conference papers and chapters in books between the year 2010 and 2022, to make this determination. The paper initiates debate on ways to improve the performance of small and medium sized enterprises run by disabled persons. This issue needs a thorough consideration, particularly in South Africa.