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WATCH: Grab your openings, urges Zulu


Establishing a coordinated approach between government and the private sector to boost small, medium and micro enterprises was the big talking point at a dialogue hosted by the department of international relations and cooperation and the East London Industrial Development Zone, where Minister of Small Business Development Lindiwe Zulu delivered the key address.

Zulu said the private sector and government needed to unite and align their efforts to have more of an impact on previously disadvantaged entrepreneurs.

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“As we prepare to host the Brics countries, we need to prepare our entrepreneurs and equip them, not just for what’s happening now, but to further engage and encourage them to capitalise on South Africa being among the Brics countries. There are so many opportunities, particularly in infrastructure development, which is among our top priorities for our African Agenda 2063, which small, medium and micro enterprises ought to be capitalising on.

“Nobody has thought about tapping into that space and that’s what we want to see our SMMEs getting into,” she said.

Zulu appealed to SMMEs to embrace the opportunities available throughout the African continent and told them to demand partnerships.

“Developing SMMEs too, is also part of the agenda,” she said.

“The platform is there and we need our parastatals and economic development departments to give the SMMEs the relevant support they deserve.

“You must be ready for business and deliver quality so investors can take you seriously.

“We need to create black industrialists and we need to empower black people to be wealth producers and not consumers.”

Economic development, environmental affairs and tourism MEC Oscar Mabuyane said they were currently developing a turnaround strategy in a bid to boost SMMEs.

“Already the ELIDZ is focusing on two critical areas of incubation and nurturing young black entrepreneurs to enable the transformation of the province’s industrial landscape, and actively targeting black industrialists to locate in and benefit from its value proposition.

“Of the investors secured by the ELIDZ to date, 36% are foreign owned, while 28% are locally owned and 23% are 100% black owned,” he said.

“We believe the funding that government is disbursing through various agencies will ultimately have the desired impact on SMME development when we shake up the officials in those agencies to do what they are there for, serving people not themselves.

“Fixing our development finance regime starts with capacitating the Eastern Cape Development Corporation [ECDC], and refocusing it on its core mandate of directly assisting SMMEs, is of top priority for us.

“The ECDC has disbursed loans to the value of R788.4-million to over 2000 SMMEs in our province and these have contributed 27000 jobs in our economy, just this term,” he said.

Mabuyane said he was concerned that despite various trips taken abroad by government officials, “we have been slow in learning and implementing best models from other sister Brics countries in as far as opening opportunities for SMMEs”.

“The economies of China and India thrive on a vibrant and highly efficient SMME sector.”

Mabuyane said they may be sending the wrong people on those visits, which needed to be corrected locally and nationally. —



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