By: Tebogo Mokwena
The Western Cape government is committed to ensuring that SMMEs in the province not only get procurement opportunities, but it also removes the various obstacles small businesses face daily. Western Cape finance and economic opportunities MEC Mireille Wenger said that a lot of work had been done for SMMEs, including distributing millions last year to boost small businesses.
In an interview with Vutivi News, Wenger outlined some of the opportunities the provincial government had created for SMMEs. Wenger said that the government, through the SMME Booster Fund, disbursed R16 million to selected organisations to deliver training programmes on business development support and access to markets. The fund was launched in 2019, and since then it has allocated R59 million and supported 730 SMMEs.
“Another barrier that often stands in the way of SMMEs is the difficulty of accessing opportunities that are created through government procurement. This is why we have also focused on making it easier to do business with the Western Cape government,” Wenger said “We have, for example, established the Procurement Client Centre (which offers) a range of services to improve the ease of doing business with the government.
“This team helps and guides suppliers through the tender process as well as assists with their registration on the National Treasury’s Central Supplier Database, and the Western Cape Supplier Evidence Bank,” she said. Wenger attributed the low number of unpaid SMMEs to the province’s commitment to supporting smaller suppliers by ensuring they were paid on time. The Western Cape government was identified by the Public Service Commission as the province with the lowest number of unpaid invoices in the previous financial quarter.
“To ensure that invoices are paid as soon as possible, the Provincial Treasury has systems in place to track the payment of invoices, to track late payments, as well as strict monthly reporting processes to report on invoice payments,” she told Vutivi News. “A key priority for the Western Cape government is to make it easier to do business, especially for SMMEs. “We remain committed to playing our part in cutting red tape, by paying invoices on time, and by innovating to enhance participation in the procurement process.”
Wenger also said that the province aimed to ensure safer and more energy-resilient communities so that small businesses could grow and succeed. “Our focus (is) on ensuring energy security in the Western Cape and our rollout of the Provincial Safety Plan in crime hotspots is aimed at tackling two major barriers for the private sector, and especially small businesses,” she said.
“We know that red tape is particularly difficult for SMMEs, and so we also have a focus on removing red tape through our Red Tape Reduction Unit. “To date, this unit has been able to maintain a successful case resolution rate of 91% in the 2021/22 financial year, and we look to improve this further in the year ahead,” Wenger said.