THE Small Enterprise Finance Agency (Sefa) has clinched 44 deals in the Eastern Cape in the 2013-14 financial year, dishing out R48-million to help boost small businesses.
More than R22-million of the developmental financing went to young entrepreneurs, and more than R10-million to women entrepreneurs.
Sefa chief executive Thakhani Makhuvha said since becoming operational in 2012, the agency had helped many high-risk start-up companies in the Eastern Cape – from funeral parlours to road construction firms.
The aid to small firms was not only for access to direct lending of between R500 to R5-million, but to also help with capacity building through pre- and post- loan mentorship.
Makhuvha was addressing small business owners and entrepreneurs yesterday at a seminar – “Securing a conducive environment for sustainable SMME development” – co-hosted by the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber in Humewood.
Sefa chairwoman Dr Sizeka Magwentshu- Rensburg, who is originally from the Eastern Cape, said there was a need in South Africa to renew the drive for the creation of small businesses.
Of the 5.6 million small businesses operational in the country, only 335000 were registered, she said.
It was not necessarily the vehicle manufacturing industry that would create new jobs in the Eastern Cape, she said.
“It will be small businesses that will grow and absorb the unemployed.”
During a question and answer session after the presentations, Magwentshu-Rensburg said “democracy is not so much about our rights, but also our responsibilities”.
She was referring to an array of options available to small business owners and entrepreneurs, which could help them with getting access to funding as well as to get help with training and developing their business skills.
Business chamber chief executive Kevin Hustler said unlocking funding was a very important factor in making small businesses work.
Small business owners should make use of networking through the chamber in order to get access to big markets and build their business connections.
Hustler said 80% of the chamber’s members were small- to medium-sized businesses employing fewer than 50 people.
Economic Development Deputy Minister Hlengiwe Mkhize said Sefa, a subsidiary of the Industrial Development Corporation, and the business chamber offered a great partnership in assisting new entrants into the business world.
Her department played an oversight role over Sefa and, as a development financier, Sefa would receive R6.5-billion over the next five years to finance entrepreneurs of which R1.7-billion was earmarked for young entrepreneurs, she said.
Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Ben Fihla said it was important for business and the government to work together in order to eradicate unemployment and create an environment conducive to doing business in the metro.
Along with the investment incentive programme, which was beneficial to growing business opportunities in the Bay, the municipality’s administration was now stable, he said.
“The political turmoil in Nelson Mandela Bay is a thing of the past. We have employed a permanent municipal manager, chief financial officer, several executive directors and plan to make further announcements soon on the appointment of other senior managers,” Fihla said. – Cindy Preller