n Skills at Work: Theory and Practice Journal - Enhancing business development through local economic development agencies (LEDAs) in KwaZulu-Natal

Volume 9 Number 1
  • ISSN : 1815-3666


The South African government is currently experiencing an economic crisis marked by poor economic growth, exacerbated by high unemployment and poverty rates. Local governments, due to their close proximity to communities, have an important role to play in addressing these developmental challenges through local economic development (LED) initiatives. They have hitherto failed to make this work, however, due to the many institutional challenges that undermine the prospects of local economies. The failure of local governments to innovate a business-development driven LED approach ultimately resulted in the establishment of Local Economic Development Agencies (LEDAs). Their purpose is give impetus for LED and to revitalise and exploit the economic potential of local and regional economies. This article interrogates the role of LEDAs in enhancing business development in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa through reviewing existing literature and policy documents. A key finding is that LEDAs are unable to drive business development effectively, due to the coordination challenges that exist between themselves and LED units. The article argues that LEDAs can only succeed in their task, if they are assigned important functions such as business development, as well as business extension and expansion.

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