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ACCESS TO MARKETS CRITICAL FOR SMME SURVIVAL

Published: Thursday, July 6, 2017

Business Community AffairsCommunity DevelopmentEconomy

  “As the key drivers of job creation and inclusive economic growth, there is no question that SMMEs must be supported as part of our development mandate,” said Themba Mathe, Acting Chief Executive of Ithala Development Finance Corporation. “Against the backdrop of an unfavourable economic climate, it becomes even more pressing for young people to be integrated into the job market to put an end to the cycle of poverty.”

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    Hundreds of small, medium and micro-sized enterprises (SMMEs) who battle daily to gain access to markets to ensure their profitability and sustainability have been thrown a lifeline, thanks to Ithala Development Finance Corporation.

    Limited access to markets is one of the key barriers to SMMEs developing and flourishing financially. Ithala is arranging for SMME’s to showcase their products and services.

    Speaking at the 2017 Global Entrepreneurship Congress in Johannesburg earlier this year, Minister of Small Business Development, Lindiwe Zulu, said the country’s economy needed scalable SMMEs that can grow at an exponential rate which is critical for reducing unemployment.

    In line with the National Development Plan, Zulu said local SMMEs needed to grow by 20% per annum in order create at least 800 000 jobs by 2030.

    In response to this challenge, day two of the annual “My Business Indaba” workshops hosted by Ithala comprises an exhibition and Market Day session which afford enterprises an opportunity to exhibit their wares and capture a range of visitors and potential buyers.

    “My Business Indaba” is a two-day workshop offering inspirational talks, advice, direction and opportunities for youth, women in communities, those who are currently in business and those who aspire to get into business.

    “As the key drivers of job creation and inclusive economic growth, there is no question that SMMEs must be supported as part of our development mandate,” said Themba Mathe, Acting Chief Executive of Ithala Development Finance Corporation.

    “Against the backdrop of an unfavourable economic climate, it becomes even more pressing for young people to be integrated into the job market to put an end to the cycle of poverty.”

    He said access to lucrative markets had remained a sore point for SMMEs for years but platforms such as “My Business Indaba” rendered the necessary exposure for SMMEs and vulnerable groups of society to infiltrate markets, network and be profitable.

    Proving popular at the workshops was the handcraft concept which heightened the potential for youth employment.

    “Operation Vula” and the Radical Agrarian Socio-Economic Transformation (RASET) are two newly-launched government programmes which seek to provide SMMEs, cooperatives and small scale farmers with access to markets, thereby enhancing the participation of previously disadvantaged groups in the mainstream economy.

    Several workshops were well received in Newcastle, Empangeni, Harding, Jozini and Manguzi.  The remaining community workshops will take place in Pietermaritzburg, Port Shepstone and Durban during July and will be advertised on various community platforms.

    Sindisiwe Gumede, owner of Bead & Traditional Art who attended a “My Business Indaba” workshop in Jozini recently, said: “We are in the business of making traditional skirts called isigege for Umkhosi Womhlanga, umblaselo for weddings, beadwork and many other items.

    “Our business started in 2013 and is run by a team of five dedicated women.”

    She cited access to markets as her greatest challenge with people preferring to support retail shops.

    “Currently our products are sold to schools who make use of traditional clothing on cultural days and for school competitions. We are also sustained during traditional ceremonies, Zulu weddings and enjoy some community support.

    “We order beads in bulk from Durban and benefit from competitive prices. However, I wish to own a few shops and in five years’ time I hope to be operating overseas. Support from government entities would also make us very happy.”

    Speaking at the Coordination Committee for Development and Promotion of African Handicrafts (CODEPA) conference in Bulawayo recently, Minister Zulu affirmed the department’s support in the development and promotion of the handicrafts sector.

    It is reported that the handicrafts sector is one of the biggest employers, especially of women and youth, in the African economy and contributes between five and 30 percent of GDP in member countries.