Access to funding and business opportunities emerged as two of the most pressing concerns facing the Nelson Mandela Bay small business sector at a business networking session hosted by Proudly South African(Proudly SA) in Port Elizabeth yesterday.Held at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Summerstrand, the well-attended event was the sixth stop on Proudly SA’s national road show.
This is aimed at helping to equip small to medium businesses for growth and sustainability.
The breakfast function comprised a Proudly SA presentation and membership drive for the organisation, along with a question-and-answer session.
It was supported by representatives from the Department of Trade and Industry, Productivity SA, Transnet and Absa Enterprise Development, who formed a panel to field questions from the floor.
As an arm of the Department of Trade and Industry, Proudly SA’s primary mandate is to influence and encourage the local procurement of products and services which ultimately support job creation and economic growth.
Chairing the panel and serving as programme director for the event, Proudly SA’s chief marketing officer, Happy maKhumalo Ngidi, emphasized the organisation’s view on small and medium business.
“Proudly SA is of the firm belief that SMMEs are the backbone of the economy; therefore, support for local manufacturers,entrepreneurs and service providers remains our top priority, ” Ngidi said.
Business owners present took banks to task over the difficulties small businesses experienced in trying to secure loans.
One unidentified entrepreneur slammed Absa bank in particular, saying: “All we see is that you sponsor matches. Explain to us how you are helping small business.”
Another entrepreneur questioned why small businesses were not getting access to business opportunities, and to foreign business opportunities such as the massive R11-billion investment by Chinese car maker BAIC into the Coega Industrial Development Zone in Port Elizabeth.