The City of Ekurhuleni has ring-fenced about R12 billion for Small, Medium and Micro-sized Enterprises (SMMEs), which will be doing business directly with the municipality over the next three years, says Mayor Mzwandile Masina.
“Over 2 000 of the SMMEs have been registered on our database. They are going to benefit directly from this R12 billion,” Masina said.
The mayor was addressing the Second South African Business Incubation Conference (SABIC), which was hosted by Minister of Small Business Development, Lindiwe Zulu, at Emperors Palace Conference Centre in Kempton Park on Thursday.
Masina said the city will assist dozens of farms and give support services to entrepreneurs in the agricultural sector.
In addition, the city has also invested about R6.2 billion per annum in infrastructure development.
“Last year, working together with the private sector, we created about 98 000 new jobs as a result of closer working relationship which ensured that as government we created an enabling environment for business,” he said.
According to the mayor, the city’s Aerotropolis Masterplan has stimulated over R3 billion worth of investments pipeline in the city, especially in the area of freight and logistics.
The Aerotropolis programme is the city’s unique economic growth path, aimed at repositioning the regional economy within the Gauteng City Region, which is envisaged to create new formal jobs.
Private sector called to invest in incubators
The Minister called on the private sector to invest in incubators to support the growth and development of the SMME sector.
Incubation programmes are aimed at improving the early-stage survival and long-term growth prospects of SMMEs, to ensure that they remain sustainable.
“It is critical that we extend the focus for business incubation in urban and rural areas on promoting locally-relevant indigenous climate innovations by SMMEs in order to address questions of climate adaptation,” Zulu said.
She said the Green economy sector is one of the areas with great opportunities.
“In rural areas the role of agriculture in economic development and poverty alleviation needs to be enhanced through appropriate interventions for an array of agribusiness incubators.
“The record of existing practice of agribusiness incubators suggests that they are promising, if not even increasingly essential, components for agricultural progress in South Africa,” Zulu said.
She said her department together with Small Enterprise Finance Agency (Sefa) and Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda) have begun a new internal revitalisation project.
“This is driven by the development of a new National Small Enterprise Act. This Act and the supporting regulations will reposition the Department of Small Business Development, Sefa and Seda in a strong way,” the Minister said.
She said the review of schedule of definitions was gazetted on 12 October 2018 and the overall amendments are in progress and are likely be available for comment by the 31 March 2019.
Furthermore, the Department of Small Business Development has developed a new draft BDS Policy Framework and sets the standards for the professionalization of the business development services (BDS) sector through the Professionalization of Business Advisors.
She said the policy proposes that Seda should no longer be more focused on implementation and should rather be more closely aligned to the national mandate of being the key SMME development facilitators for the SMME sector.
“This means that Department of Small Business Development, Sefa and Seda will become an aide to broader BDS sector and will facilitate innovation-driven growth within the sector through improved facilitation and less implementation.
“Innovation-driven growth requires that the collective strength of the various BDS sub-sectors is harnessed for the improvement of the sector and the various sub-sectors. This information will be provided through the DSBD Portal which will be inclusive of the Sefa and Seda contributions,” Zulu said.
The Minister said the portal will be a single access point for SMMEs in South Africa in the context of all things related to SMME development.
Member of Parliament Bob Mabaso said the street vendors that sell fruit and vegetables need incubations so that their business can grow.
“Old buildings that are no longer in use must be utilised so that small businesses and cooperatives use that space to establish and grow their business,” Mabaso said.
He urged Seda to think about providing shelter for hawkers.
“Let’s work together. We must not be proud to compete against each other as small businesses but aim to complement each other,” Mabaso said. – SAnews.gov.za