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Mass economic training opportunities

- by Sipho Mngadi

1. Background and introduction

The promotion of entrepreneurship and small businesses remain an important priority for the South African Government. The establishment of small businesses is critical as they progressively increase opportunities for the population in areas such as job creation, equity access, access to markets and access to finance.

The Impendle Municipality, in conjunction with GCIS, has identified an opportunity to provide small, medium and micro-enterprises (SMMEs) with the skills required by small businesses and entrepreneurs to develop capacity-building in business management; to combat the levels of unemployment and to alleviate poverty.  

With the help of Umgungundlovu District Municipality, a turnaround strategy was introduced. The five weeks training were directed at SMMEs at Impendle to develop interest and love of business management and operation.

2. Approach

The district municipality has been engaging with the municipalities to offer something different to small business and to foster a more positive understanding and knowledge about business. The training emanated from issues like the access to finance, lack of business-support structures to sustain business, financial management, market research, drafting of business plans and businesses being able to tender for government contracts.

The training aimed to equip entrepreneurs with detailed information from beginning to end.

The first week of training dealt with business management, entrepreneurship and financial management. During the second week, the entrepreneurs conducted market research. This included developing a quotation about the business they have chosen. The third week was spent editing all the data from the research and starting to develop business plans.

During the fourth week, the entrepreneurs continued with the development of their business plans and the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda) assisted entrepreneurs with business registration. They also did presentations about all the products and services rendered by this agency.

The entrepreneurs spent their last week finalising and submitting the business plans and portfolios of evidence.

Absa undertook to open accounts for SMMEs without bank accounts.

After completing the training, the participants each received a certificate, which would assist them to access funds, getting finance from private institutions (like banks) and enabling them to tender for government contracts.   

3. Key issues raised by SMMEs

The entrepreneurs raised issues such as:

  • lack of funding for small businesses
  • difficulty to access markets as they are living in rural areas
  • unaffordable business premises
  • the acquisition of skills and other managerial expertise
  • access to information about economic development
  • access to business infrastructure in poor areas or poverty nodes.

4. Key stakeholders

The partners and stakeholders are the Department of Economic Development (DED), Further Education and Training (FET), Seda, Absa, Umgungundlovu District Municipality Local Economic Development (LED), Impendle Local Municipality LED and GCIS.

The GCIS assisted by paying for catering for three days and helping to collect and disseminate information required by trainees, while Impendle covered the rest of the catering costs. Absa assisted businesses and entrepreneurs to open business accounts, while Seda assisted in business registration. Umgungundlovu and DED covered the costs of training for the five-week period by the trainers and FET. 

5. Key successes

This unique training targeted SMMEs. Only 18 people attended the training, thereby giving the trainers the opportunity to attend to each person individually, thus enhancing the level of understanding of those who attended the training.

Five disabled entrepreneurs also participated in this training, showing that government is promoting skills development to disabled people, which forms part of social cohesion.

6. Key challenges

Although the programme targeted a maximum of 30 people, it was unfortunate to see only 18 people attending the training. It was thought that the Community Hall was a central place to gather for all the entrepreneurs who wished to attend from four wards, but transport costs posed challenges when 12 people were unable to attend due to the logistical and cost implications.

7. Recommendations

This is a good opportunity for emerging entrepreneurs and small businesspeople. It is recommended that it should be an ongoing project to assist the people, in particular those who want to be self-employed and create the opportunity to employ other people in places where they live. Government departments like the departments of arts, culture and tourism; labour; and agriculture should also be engaged as partners or stakeholders.

Intensive and longer training periods are more interactive and meaningful to the individual who is struggling with business issues than one-day workshops. Training and education are the solutions to developing sustainable small businesses and/or entrepreneurs and the various stakeholders committed themselves to assisting where possible to improve the level of service delivery.

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