Published: Monday, November 14, 2016

Community AffairsCommunity DevelopmentBanking EconomyYouth

Amid reports that KwaZulu-Natal is lagging behind other provinces in the development of small, medium and micro-enterprises (SMMEs), the tide is set to change as greater numbers of people get onto the entrepreneurial ladder.

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Amid reports that KwaZulu-Natal is lagging behind other provinces in the development of small, medium and micro-enterprises (SMMEs), the tide is set to change as greater numbers of people get onto the entrepreneurial ladder.

A study commissioned by the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA) has revealed that the number of SMMEs in KZN declined by 11 percent from 2008 to 2015.

The losses pointed to the formal business sector where 27 615 businesses ceased operations last year.

Some of the reasons attributed to the decline were a lack of infrastructure, access to finance, poor profitability, red tape in government, high levels of crime and a volatile economic climate.

Job displacements, are seen to be one of the major forces driving growth in the SMME sector, particularly among African race groups, who set up shop in formerly black areas.

Ithala Development Finance Corporation, through the Inkunz’isematholeni Youth in Business programme, is well positioned to serve emerging markets in outlying areas where a dire need for a better quality of life exists.

The KZN provincial development agency has tailor-made packages for SMMEs to turn people’s dreams into reality, enabled by the continual expansion of its portfolio of financial products.

Inkunz’isematholeni is a flagship project launched by Ithala in 2014 in an effort to tackle unemployment by encouraging the country’s youth to consider self-employment as a job option.

The initiative attracts youth with innovative and sustainable business concepts and provides incubation and start-up in their journey to becoming seasoned entrepreneurs.

Over the past five years, 12 425 jobs have been created through lending activities, 873 enterprises have been assisted and loans totalling R1, 45 billion have been advanced.

The top 20 finalists in this year’s competition recently underwent training with Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), one of the strategic partners in the initiative.

“The objective was to assist finalists in further developing their business ideas into bankable business plans,” said Manqoba Mbatha, Ithala Services Manager: Business Finance.

“Most participants only had raw ideas and inventions without having performed a SWOT analyses or receiving any business direction. We empowered them with essential information to enable them to advance their business ideas.

“At the end of the workshop, participants were more knowledgeable about what a business plan was and how to craft it. They learned about financial projections, SWOT analyses and how to start, finance and effectively run a business.”

Several workshop participants were left invigorated by the session.

Thobile Mbambo, 23, from KwaMashu, north of Durban said: “It’s been great and I have learned a lot. I realised that business is not what I thought it was. The information I received has made me improve on my business concept.

“I was initially despondent when our ideas were criticised but I soon realised that the constructive criticism will help to improve our business ideas.

“I always wanted to be an entrepreneur. My aunt is a very successful entrepreneur who left a regular job to pursue her dream and she is my inspiration.”

Siyabonga Mbhense, 24, from Lamontville, south of Durban said: “As a science student at eThekwini College, it dawned on me that there is a shortage of jobs in SA and the youth should be looking at creating employment as opposed to seeking it.

“Winning this competition will turn my dreams into reality and turn my ideas into a viable business. It will also transform the lives of many other people.

“My vision is to grow into a prominent businessman in the green energy sector.”

Mangaliso Cele, 24, from Umlazi, south of Durban said: “I come from a family of entrepreneurs. Hence, employment has never been an option for me.

“I’m business-minded and always thinking of new innovative ideas. The workshop has been very informative. It helped us to network with other entrepreneurs and learn from each other.

“I want to be one of the biggest technology start-ups in the country and, maybe even globally.”

The two winning business plans from the 2015 programme are fully operational.

Lindokuhle Duma from Ladysmith, inventor of a portable cooking instrument for indoor and outdoor use and which doesn’t require electricity, gas or paraffin said: “The business is currently operating from a state-owned rehab centre in Newlands West. Our business model is based on giving back.

“We work from the rehab centre and also help drug addicts on their road to recovery by training and equipping them with valuable skills to kick the habit and re-integrate into society.  

“Some rehabilitees need capital to start their own business when they leave rehab to sell the stoves to the community for us. We pay them commission for every stove sold.

“We are a team of nine people and our production capacity is currently 1 680 stoves a month. The stoves are also for sale to the broader market and we have enjoyed the support of corporates who buy the stoves in bulk and donate them to the less fortunate.

“Thank you Ithala for the opportunity. When we entered the competition we didn’t know we would be where we are right now.”

Busisiwe Mntungwa from Hammarsdale implemented an innovative method of farming potatoes that substantially decreases operational costs and water usage.

She said: “We’ve been farming on a small scale all this time. I’m grateful for the nine hectare farm handed over to me recently by Ithala.

“We are farming 200 sacks of potatoes at a time on the small patch. With the new farm we are going to do much more and the business is definitely going to grow. I currently employ eight people but I’m hands-on myself.

“Thanks to Ithala for the opportunity. I will make the most of it and hope the programme continues to encourage youth to venture into business.”

Winners of the 2016 Inkunz’isematholeni competition will be announced at an awards ceremony on 24 November in Durban.  




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