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Parliament | 29 October 2023

The majority of Pixley Ka Seme District Municipality residents supported the National Small Enterprise Amendment Bill during the second public hearings that were conducted by a delegation of the Portfolio Committee on Small Business Development on the Bill in the Northern Cape Province at Braaipal Community Hall in Douglas yesterday.

Chapter 3 of the Bill on the establishment of Small Enterprise Development Finance Agency attracted the eyes of the participants and they expressed their hope that the Bill will push back the frontiers of poverty in their district. In supporting the Bill, however, they highlighted, among other things, its silence on the provision of start-up grants for Small Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMMEs).

The participants applauded the establishment of the Small Enterprise Development Finance Agency. They highlighted that Section 15 (1) which covers “The fund of Agency” including “grants, donations and bequests made to the Agency” was also silent on the funding provision for SMMEs. They made an appeal for a provision to be made for subsidies that will enable a start-up for immediate funds to be available for SMMEs in order to achieve the objectives of the Bill.

SMMEs informed the delegation about their ambition to grow and become well developed business people who can compete at all levels of business. They complained that Sub-Section 13 of the Bill is silent on the location of the offices for easy access by the SMMEs. The Sub-Section covers the “Agency’s powers and functions” providing for “design and implement small enterprise development support programmes in order to… ‘facilitate the promotion of entrepreneurship’”. Participants submitted that although there are provincial and district offices, provision should be made in the Bill for dedicated satellite offices within the municipalities so that services can be brought closer to the SMMEs and for the field workers to be able to attend to the challenges and needs of the small businesses.

The residents welcomed the proposed establishment of the Office of the Small Enterprise Ombud Service and expressed their hope that it will assist in curbing the use of service providers from other cities when there are events held in their areas. They reiterated their desire for the creation of economic opportunities in their area hence they wholeheartedly support the Bill. They called for the prioritisation of rural communities on the grounds that the impoverished rural areas are historically marginalised.

Those who rejected the Bill indicated that it does not make provision for financial support and empowerment for SMMEs, which enable them to develop. They want their businesses to grow, but the Bill does not express an intention to see small businesses grow into bigger businesses. They stated that previously disadvantaged SMMEs do not meet the requirements when they apply for funding.

In addition, local businesses expressed that they are expected to comply with strict regulations, but the Bill is silent on why foreign nationals are not adhering to the regulations, which are forced on the local small businesses. The SMMEs indicated that the Bill, as it stands is just a piece of paper.

They argued strongly against the merger of the entities stating that they displayed sheer incompetence. They don't see how the integration will assist them as entrepreneurs.

Furthermore, they highlighted a litany of socio-economic and service delivery challenges they encounter in their areas, challenges which include increasing crime and youth unemployment, deepening poverty, prevalence of drug and alcohol abuse among youth, crumbling road infrastructure, crumbling healthcare centres, scarcity of water and non-availability of ambulances during emergencies.

The leader of the delegation, Mr Faiez Jacobs thanked the participants for their attendance and the contributions they made on the Bill, which he described as meaningful and overwhelming. He said: “As public representatives, we listened to your plight, concerns and issues you have raised. You have empowered us as members of the committee and we will make sure that your inputs are considered.” The committee will today hold public hearings on the Bill at Francis Baard District Municipality from 11:00 to 14:00 in Kimberley at Kimberley City Hall. The delegation invited all the interested individuals and organisations to attend to express their views on the Bill.


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