The Small Business Development Department is making good on its pledge to get its agencies working to support small businesses, with billions to be spent on SMMEs and cooperatives in its 2022/23 budget. Small Business Development Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams told a mini plenary of the National Assembly this week that there would be better funding opportunities for small and medium businesses while presenting her department’s budget.
She said that the department would leverage the R500-million Innovation Fund developed through the ecosystem, which would be supported by the European Union. She also said that R416-million would be allocated over the medium term to sector and market development within the department. “(One of the department’s proposed strategic focuses) is access to business development services and support infrastructure,” the minister said.
“Our approach is to upscale our support to incubation hubs and digital hubs, and roll out business support infrastructure to townships and rural areas,” Ndabeni-Abrahams said that the department would be looking to spend R953-million through the Township and Rural Enterprise Programme for a targeted 24,000 township and rural enterprises.
She also noted that the department would ramp up support for the manufacturing sector through its focused Import Programme to strengthen the country’s industrial base. “Up to R15-million (will be set aside for each) entity, and this is currently being reviewed,” the minister told the sitting. A total of R295-million would be set aside for the Young Entrepreneurs Programme, which was one of the department’s new initiatives to inject support into youth-owned small enterprises.
And it would support 10,000 startups for the 2022/23 financial year. According to Ndabeni-Abrahams, R76.9-million would be spent on 200 cooperatives through the department’s Cooperatives Support Programme, which offered blended financing to eligible entities, and a total of R630-million would be spent on youth entrepreneurs. “We are going to predominantly focus on the local government sphere, and build on the administration simplification programme the government is working on, which is currently piloted in three municipalities,” she said.
“This will be built up to assist 20 municipalities in different provinces. “We will also be looking at the amendment of the National Small Enterprises Act to establish the office of the ombudsman,” Ndabeni-Abrahams told MPs that public spending was at the heart of the department’s localisation strategy, with priority given to black, youth and women-owned businesses.
“We are working with several government and department entities to increase the density of SMMEs in the state market while the Public Procurement Bill is being finalised,” she said. Ndabeni-Abrahams also said that through the Small Enterprise Development Agency, the department would prioritise building a sustainable loan book through the expansion of credit, in order to close the gap in providing credit to SMMEs.