THE Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda) in Limpopo has called on government to do more in order to generate greater opportunities for SMMEs to be able to procure goods and services from the state to bolster the growth businesses operating in the province.
Speaking to African Times this week, Koenie Slabbert, the provincial manager of Seda in the province, revealed that government was still the biggest procurer of goods and services from enterprises in region, which made it important for the entity to be in a position that would help create a conducive and enabling environment to capacitate, develop and train entrepreneurs in the country.
“One of the ways that government could assist us is with more funding so that we can have the capacity to assist more people in a meaningful and impactful way. “It will also assist us to have more focused programmes to assist SMMEs. The role of Seda is to ensure that our clients have access to funding. We assist them in ensuring that we help them to develop business plans that are fundable that will be submitted to the DFI (Development Finance Institutions) for them to be able to go through the screening process with much ease,” he said.
He further explained how, in the current economic environment, start up businesses faced a series of challenges. Currently, South Africa has not had a reasonable growth trajectory over more than two periods. The latest GDP figures show that that the agricultural sector is the one sector that has played a very significant role in the country’s 2.5 percent growth.
“Start ups face a two way challenge where funders would want them to prove that they have access to markets for their products or services in order for funding to be approved but at the same time the market wants the start ups to prove that they have good quality products and the capacity to deliver it to the market on time.
“To remedy this challenge, Seda is forging a close relationship with both funders and markets to see where it can find the middle ground for this challenge,” he explained.
Furthermore, Slabbert highlighted that through the Supplier Development Programme, the organisation saw from a supplier’s perspective, what to look at and what requirements have to be met in order to commit to buying from an SMME.
“We then assist clients to meet those requirements so that they can access the markets and once they have commitment from the suppliers, funders can assist with funding,” he said.
He revealed that Seda is in constant collaborations with institutions such as the Industrial Development Corporation, National Empowerment Fund, National Youth Development Agency, SEFA and Limpopo Economic Development Agency.
“We also have relationships with local mines and other suppliers such as Pick n pay, Spar, Fruit and Vege City, Foodlovers market,” he said. He added: “Markets sometimes do not know what new products and services are available by SMMEs so we also facilitate access to markets through taking clients to local and international exhibitions where buyers and sellers have an opportunity to network and offers exposure for the SMMEs. “We take clients to exhibitions such as Durban Indaba, Decorex, Eskom Small Business Expo and the SA Innovation Summit.”