Bank­ing on small busi­ness

New cen­tre gives boost to SME's en­trepreneurs

Sunday World - - Business - MOSA MOKHEMA

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.

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