Help for ‘over 14 000 small firms’

22 October 2009

South Africa’s Small Enterprise Development Agency helped over 14 000 clients with services ranging from business planning and registrations to cooperatives support and access to markets in 2008/09.

In all, 199 830 potential and existing small businesses accessed the agency’s services through its 42 branches countrywide, an increase of 7.3% over the previous year.

Briefing a National Council of Provinces committee in Cape Town this week, Seda CEO Hlonela Lupuwana said that out of those, 46 695 clients’ needs were assessed and 14 373 were helped.

The Seda technology programme assisted 835 small businesses with a total turnover of R129-million, through its network of 27 incubators, and also helped to create 224 new small enterprises, Lupuwana said.

Its Community Private Public Partnership programme, which offers support to co-operatives and community-owned projects, has also been revived.

In-house advisors

Seda had decided to limit the use of consultants to the supply of more technical services, and to 20% of all services offered by Seda, with the remainder being offered by in-house advisors, Lupuwana said.

Last week, a group of 25 Seda business advisers embarked on a seven-day visit to Taiwan, where they were expected to gather more diagnostic skills and training on helping business owners.

Another group of 25 advisers were expected to visit Brazil later this year, Lupuwana said, adding that the visits were a cost-effective way of supporting advisers as Seda only had to pay for “minor expenses”.

Forging partnerships

Lupuwana said a random survey of 902 clients had shown that 80% of clients found that Seda’s assistance had a positive effect on their business.

This support had come amid limited resources, and despite a six-month moratorium on the provision of all services by the agency to small enterprises.

The limited budget – the agency received R331.2-million for 2009/10 – was a “major problem” in terms of meeting the agency’s targets.

Lupuwana said the key to widening the agency’s support on a limited budget would be the partnerships it could forge with key partners such as provincial and local governments.

In the Eastern Cape, for example, a number of municipalities had donated buildings and paid for rent so that Seda centres could be set up there.

Source: BuaNews