One-stop shop must succeed this time

PREMIUM

The attractiveness of any city for potential investment, business development and consequent economic growth – apart from the obvious capacity for success – must surely be how smooth and glitch-free the process is.
This is why the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality came up with an initiative in 2014 for a one-stop shop for investors to make the kickstarting of an enterprise as effortless as possible while also later launching a similar facility for small business owners.
But for all its good intentions, the entire venture came to nought and it was reduced to serving as an information centre.
It’s not rocket science to understand why.
The one-stop shop actually wasn’t what it purported to be at all as potential entrepreneurs – having been pointed in a certain direction – still had to go from pillar to post with their plans to get the ball rolling.
A lack of co-ordination within the municipality itself has also been cited.
Now the metro is having another go at the concept – using an electronic management system to centralise applications and streamline the process.
It is imperative this onerous red tape is removed when it comes to fast-tracking rezoning applications along with the provision of business incentives which could be the critical decider for investors.
But there is another key element.
A World Bank research paper has found the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) sector in South Africa has remained stagnant over the past 10 years.
A number of factors are at play here according to the report – inadequate research, difficulties accessing finance and markets, red tape and lack of regulatory policy.
But what it does make clear is that – as in the case of the metro – intergovernmental co-ordination should be strengthened.
It also says improved co-ordination between the government and the private sector is crucial, entailing private sector incubators, business accelerators and information sharing.
The NMB Business Chamber has committed to facilitating MSME growth – so the success of the one-stop shop this time round is critical...

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