60 applications received so far for incubator grants - Davies

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Cape Town - The Department of Trade and Industry has so far received 60 applications for cost-sharing grants to help roll out small business incubation programmes, since the launch of the Incubation Support Programme (ISP) in September.

Answering questions from MPs in the National Assembly on Wednesday, Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies said the 60 applications would be presented shortly to the programme's adjudication committee.

"The aim of course is that we want to create entrepreneurs with real skills, real capacities to be involved in the productive economy of this country," said Davies.

He said the programme, along with proposed changes to the BEE codes to promote supplier development and partnerships between his department with universities and Further Education and Training (FET) colleges - including those in rural areas - would also see more support from the government to small businesses.

The ISP offers a cost-sharing support of 50:50 for large businesses and a cost-sharing of 40:60 for small businesses that carry out incubation programmes.

Grants are payable for building incubators and for providing business services of up to R10 million per financial year, payable bi-annually over three years, to organisations and companies that run incubators and incubation programmes.

Incubation programmes, he said, were among the government's most successful small business support programmes, but the problem was that the country did not have enough of such programmes.

The Minister of Economic Development Ebrahim Patel said his department would help small businesses to gain access major infrastructure projects by focusing on a number of areas.

These include working with the Presidential Infrastructure Co-ordinating Commission (PICC) with other departments and entities to develop policies and measures to ensure that more small businesses were included in major projects.

Patel said his department would also help increase funding to small businesses through the Small Enterprise Finance Agency (Sefa) and the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC).

His department would also liaise with large companies to get them to increase their number of small as well as black suppliers.

Finally, his department would also support efforts by the Competition Commission and Tribunal to tackle anti-competitive practices by big firms in the construction sector which kept smaller players out of the market.

Answering a question from a member of the opposition on whether there was duplication of mandates between his department and trade and industry on small business, Patel said he didn't believe this was so.

He said a range of departments were involved in small business development, including the Department of Science and Technology and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

The government, he said, however is committed to improving co-ordination.

For example, he said, that while his department would help improve funding to small businesses, it would work with trade and industry which would through the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda) help to supply incubation and other business support to business owners that were funded.

On a question from an opposition member on what his department is doing to improve rural development and boost Comprehensive Rural Development Programme (CRDP), the Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform Gugile Nkwinti said in some areas the programme was moving along, even though some areas had been slow to show results.

Nkwinti also said he agreed with Grain SA that the gap between emerging and commercial farming is closing, because of the success of the department's Recapitalisation and Development programme.

He said municipal and district councillors were involved in determining what needed to be done in developing each rural area, pointing out that in a recent rural development conference, councillors made up half of the 800 delegates. - SAnews.gov.za

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