Gauteng propels small business

25 April 2005

The Gauteng provincial government has launched a new agency and web portal to provide one-stop financial and non-financial support to small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) in South Africa’s smallest – and richest – province.

Speaking at the launch of the Gauteng Enterprise Propeller in Johannesburg last week, Gauteng Finance and Economic Affairs MEC Paul Mashatile said the provincial government had set aside R300-million for the new agency in 2005/06.

“Through this agency, we expect to provide support to 30 000 SMMEs by 2014”, Mashatile said.

Besides offering financial assistance, the agency will tackle challenges facing small businesses, such as lack of capacity, training, and information on markets.

The portal will support the agency’s work by serving as an SMME database, allowing buyers to access SMMEs and the services they provide, and giving SMMEs information on services, tendering processes, procurement benefits, and how to do business with the government.

“I encourage all our SMMEs to register on the portal, as this will be our main source through which tender / RFQs earmarked for SMMEs will be communicated”, Mashatile said.

The initiative seeks to address the challenges of poverty, unemployment and the inclusion of black people, women, young people and people with disabilities into South Africa’s mainstream economy.

“In many parts of the world SMMEs have proven themselves to be reliable drivers of economic growth and job creation”, Mashatile said. “Because of their size, they tend to adapt more quickly to changing market conditions, and collectively they tend to absorb more labour than big business.”

Mashatile said the agency would seek to “deepen and expand” the gains made by other institutions – such as Khula, the National Empowerment Fund, and the Small Enterprise Development Agency – in growing small business in the country.

“We will establish ‘smart partnerships’ with successful SMME support initiatives in order to maximise the benefits that are provided to SMMEs”, Mashatile said. “In addition, we will partner with financial institutions in order to address the challenge of access to finance by small businesses.”

The agency, Mashatile said, would also build on the resources developed over the years by the province’s manufacturing advisory centres over the years, “expanding the service offering to cater for entrepreneurs in manufacturing, commercial and service sectors of the economy”.

The Gauteng Enterprise Propeller will operate as a section 21 company run by a board of directors under the leadership of Dr Danisa Baloyi, executive director of the National Black Business Caucus. reporter