Absa launches PE Enterprise Development Centre to support SMEs

MAY 27, 2016

Absa Bank Ltd (Absa), a member of Barclays Africa Group Ltd, on  Wednesday launched a new Enterprise Development Centre in Port Elizabeth that will benefit thousands of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Eastern Cape.

The centre is one of eight across South Africa and forms part of the bank’s suite of enterprise development solutions aimed at giving small businesses access to finance, markets and business support to play a meaningful role in the economy and help to support job creation. The Centre also unlocks SME networking and linkages for SMEs to explore corporate and government opportunities.

This brings to eight the total number of Enterprise Development Centres that Absa has established in the past few years across the country. These centres form part of the bank’s suite of enterprise development solutions aimed at giving small businesses access to finance, markets and business support.

Tshiwela Mhlantla, Provincial Managing Executive, Eastern and Southern Cape at Absa, says “While financial support is an important factor in the successful development of SMEs, business development support, including business assessment, training, mentoring, advisory and information is key to enabling SMEs to become stronger businesses of the future.”

“Our Enterprise Development Centres are hubs of excellence designed to provide nonfinancial support to small businesses owners where they can receive training, have access to hot desks and boardrooms and meeting rooms and benefit from networking opportunities,” says Mhlantla.

“At Absa, we recognise that SMEs need more than just funding to succeed as they also have other challenges. They experience a high failure rate mainly due to a lack of business and financial management skills. As a result, a lot of funding advanced to SMEs under a number of our programmes, such as the Absa Supplier Development Programme, is linked to a nonfinancial support package to improve the owners’ business and financial management skills and to provide them with networking opportunities.”

In addition to the bank’s normal lending criteria, Absa has committed R250-million annually in non-traditional lending aimed at the SME sector in South Africa. This fund is available to SMEs that typically would not meet traditional lending criteria but have ability to generate income in the future.

Small businesses also often struggle to penetrate existing markets, or create new ones, especially when competing against more established and bigger businesses. All SMEs that visit the Enterprise Development Centres are offered access to Absa’s Procurement Portal, a virtual platform that links SME suppliers with blue-chip companies and government bodies, to encourage corporates to buy more services and products from SMEs. To date there are more than 41 000 SMEs and about 5 100 corporate buyers actively using the portal.

“Absa understands the importance of SMEs as an engine of economic growth. We are committed to developing sustainable SMEs by linking them into the supply chains of big corporates. We believe that access to markets is an SME’s biggest challenge; after all a business without customers cannot succeed,” adds Mhlantla.

“Through our collaboration with corporates in both the private and public sectors, Absa is able to provide SME suppliers in these corporates’ supply chains with access to development finance. These are usually SMEs that would not qualify for lending through traditional channels,” says Mhlantla.

She adds that by unlocking the potential of SMEs, Absa can play a meaningful role in supporting job creation in the communities of Eastern Cape and help them prosper. The bank has signed Memorandums of Understanding with Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, Joe Gqabi Municipality, East London Industrial Devleopemnt Zone and most recently with George and Knysna, municipalities to provide funding and business development support to SME suppliers to these entities.

The Enterprise Development Centre in Port Elizabeth will be managed by Gcinashe Vambe and will open every Monday to Friday from 09:00 – 16:30. It is located at the following address:

Centre Manager: Gcinashe Vambe
1st Floor, Kwantu Towers 
Vuyisile Mini Square 
Central Business District 
Port Elizabeth 
Tel. 041 Tel: 041 501 9200

Image: (L– R) Executive Mayor Councillor Danny Jordaan - Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality; Tshiwela Mhlantla, Absa Provincial Managing Executive; Mr. Lithemba Singaphi - Convener of NAFCOC, Kevin Hustler - CEO Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber and Johan Mettler - Municipal Manager Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality