Optimising closely held entities to enhance commercial participation and development: The Southern African experience in comparative perspective
The important contribution of the small business sector to economic growth and regional development is widely and generally acknowledged. In 1984, the South African Close Corporations Act introduced a simple, inexpensive and flexible closelyheld entity for the business consisting of a single entrepreneur or small number of participants, designed with a view to his or their reasonable needs and expectations and without burdening him or them with legal requirements that would not be meaningful in the circumstances. This example was followed with varying degrees of success in Southern Africa and Australia by legislative developments aimed at the introduction, in various guises, of new legal forms for small business. In more recent law reform initiatives in Australia and especially the United Kingdom, various options were analysed to optimise closely-held entities with a view to enhancing commercial participation and economic development through small businesses. Eventually, the somewhat less imaginative approach of merely simplifying the private company was chosen. Attention will be given to the Southern African experience of closely-held entities and then to a critical comparative analysis of and perspectives on recent developments in Australia and especially the United Kingdom.