Cape Town: It was not a shortage of inspiration or ideas but a thirst for solutions on funding and business opportunities that brought together well over 340 entrepreneurs at the National Empowerment Fund (NEF) Empowerment EXPO, held on Thursday, 28 March 2019 at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.
Hosted by the NEF in conjunction with the Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism (DEDAT) the daylong event sought “to provide valuable information on business planning, access to business finance, franchise opportunities, mentorship support and regulatory compliance,” says Mr Nhlanhla Nyembe, NEF Acting Divisional Executive for SME and Rural Development.
In his address, Mr John Peters, Chief Director for Integrated Economic Development Services in the province, said DEDAT “remains committed to making it easier for SMMEs to do business in the Western Cape. Our successful partnerships with municipalities, corporates (e.g Pick n Pay & Deloitte), tertiary institutions and SMME support organisations and agencies such as the NEF and SEDA will continue to underpin our efforts to develop and grow entrepreneurship and SMMEs. With a significant increase in our budget for 2019/2020 for SMME and entrepreneurship support, we will once again forge and strengthen our strategic partnerships to deliver value-adding services to our SMMEs that enable them to grow and increase labour absorption. We envisage continuing our partnership with the NEF in the new financial year to improve access to finance to Western Cape entrepreneurs”.
Also, in attendance were panellists representing BP, Engine, Caltex, Spar Group, Pick n Pay, Spur Group, Nandos and Famous Brands. Financiers included Sefa, IDC and the Old Mutual’s Masisizane Fund. Presentations were also delivered by representatives of the Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Energy as well as Environmental Health Services. Mr Eugene Petersen, Cape Town District Sales Manager at Astron Energy said: “Astron Energy is proud to partner with the NEF to help remove some of the barriers to entry that emerging black entrepreneurs encounter in the petroleum retailing sector. We understand that this market often lacks business experience so our support goes beyond funding to provide coaching, mentoring and training in order to enhance the new business owner’s chance of success.”
The NEF’s Mr Nyembe informed the entrepreneurs that since operational inception in 2005 the development financier had “approved 957 transactions worth more than R9.6 billion for black-empowered businesses across different sectors countrywide. We are here because we want more and more black entrepreneurs from the Western Cape to take advantage of the various opportunities that the province has to offer, and indeed to grow their investments across the country”.
He said the NEF was looking for viable business plans from blackowned enterprises in any of the key sectors of the economy, supported by financial projections.
Further, added Mr Nyembe, to qualify for NEF funding of between R250 000 and R75 million, the entrepreneurs would need to meet eligibility and commercial viability criteria inclusive of black ownership, management and operational involvement; risk sharing by entrepreneurs; black women empowerment; community involvement where relevant; compliance with relevant NEF product criteria; job creation, and the geographic location of the business.
Added DEDAT’s Mr Peters: “Our Ease of Doing Business programme which to date has contributed savings and benefits worth over R1bn to the provincial economy, will be expanded through collaborative partnerships with municipalities and provincial and national government departments. Through this programme we will continue to identify and address those blockages that constrain business growth. We look forward to playing a significant role in national government’s roll out of its red tape reduction programme”.