SA to host ground-breaking summit on SMEs

The three-day summit ‘ from 23 to 25 August ‘ will serve as a platform for the countries’ institutions that deal with small businesses to share experiences and best practices.

The Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda), Brazilian Micro and Small Businesses Support Service (Sebrae) and India’s National Small Industries Corporation (NSIC), are expected to explore regulations for small businesses, access to finance and technology support.

With SMEs regarded as “critical” in reducing South Africa’s poverty and unemployment rates, government views the co-operation as carrying the potential to improve socio-economic conditions in the second economy.

Speaking at the media launch of the summit this week, Trade and Industry Deputy Minister Elizabeth Thabethe said the South-South co-operation marked the foundation of development and also the growth of the small business industry in South Africa.

As part of activities marking July as entrepreneurship month, dti and Seda are engaged in programmes to create awareness about business opportunities and how people could access them.

Ms Thabethe said by creating for example, awareness around the existence of the SA Micro-finance Apex Fund (SAMAF), this could help SMEs tremendously.

SAMAF is meant to stimulate the development of small medium micro enterprises (SMEs) by opening doors to aspiring entrepreneurs who need loans less than R10 000 as a start-up.

‘With the products we have in the dti, we believe we can achieve this [development of small businesses],” she said.

Central to the tri-nations co-operation is to create linkages for Seda, Sebrae and NSIC to stimulate economic development in their countries through the small business sector.

Director for NSIC, Aron Kumarja said they envisaged sharing expertise in a bid to ensure the transition of small businesses currently in the second economy to the mainstream economy.

He said India had minimised regulatory costs for small businesses to cater for more aspiring businesspeople.

He added that among 14 million SMMEs in India, only four million were in the formal settlements.

Seda chief executive Wawa Damane expressed hope that South Africa would learn more from NSIC’s successes in availing necessary technology for the sector.

The successes, she noted, extended to linking government’s procurement processes with the small-scale industry.

Ms Damane said Seda’s relationship with NSIC dated back to the times of its predecessor, Ntsika.

“As institutions, we saw it necessary to start delivering on what could be beneficial to small businesses because as Seda we are very keen to learn elsewhere.

“As Seda we will look at the partnership models that are successful elsewhere,” she said.

Seda would also take lessons from Sebrae and NSIC ‘ as non-financing institutions ‘ that were able to link with financial institutions in their countries to benefit small businesses. ‘ BuaNews.

August 2006
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