Banking on small business
New centre gives boost to SME's entrepreneurs
ABSA believes small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are the lifeblood of any thriving economy.
As the Global Entrepreneurship Week draws to a close and in the spirit of developing and promoting the growth of SMEs, Absa, in partnership with the City of Joburg, opened its flagship, state-of-the-art Centre of Entrepreneurship in Newtown, Joburg, this week.
The business development centre will allow prospective business people with bright ideas to come to the centre, receive various forms of training and advice, and apply for funding.
In addition to the provision of business development services, Absa has committed R250-million in non-traditional lending that is aimed entirely at the SME sector.
Absa operates eight other Centres of Entrepreneurship across South Africa, with the Newtown one being the flagship and setting a new standard for the way the other Centres of Entrepreneurship are run.
Barclays Africa group chairwoman Wendy Lucas-Bull said the goal they have set themselves in the SME sector required them to be more than just financiers of startups.
It requires us to play a meaningful role by supporting entrepreneurs beyond just their financial needs.
Funding is, of course, vitally important, hence our R250-million commitment this year to help SMEs prosper that typically would not meet normal lending criteria.”
According to Lucas-Bull, a lack of business management skills is a huge reason for the high failure rate of SMEs.
To help address the lack of resources, the centres will also provide infrastructure such as computers with internet access to process business requirements with speed and ease.
Lucas-Bull added that developments such as the entrepreneurship centre will help city managers achieve their goal of rejuvenating the inner city to make it a worldclass, vibrant and thriving economic hub for those who work and live in it.
Joburg mayor Parks Tau said the private and public sector cooperation with Absa to keep SMEs in business would contribute significantly to growth and development.
Tau also highlighted the significance of capitalising on Newtown’s history as the historical hub of exchange and the original centre of Joburg.
SMEs are engines of growth for any economy.
Our ability to grow our economy as a country is being stifled by the fact that we continue to rely on a small number of entrepreneurs who can only provide a few jobs,” he said.
This centre will create a platform for those who have identified business opportunities and ideas to have a place to go where their ideas can be taken from concept stage to the establishment of real businesses,” the mayor added.
The private and public partners involved in Absa’s initiative include the City of Joburg, Telkom, Microsoft, the South African Revenue Service, South African Breweries, Gordon Institute of Business, KPMG, MassCash, South African Institute of Professional Accountants, South African Bureau of Standards, Sustainable Entrepreneurship Accelerator and Proudly South African.