First SMME development programme for Eastern Cape

NOVEMBER 7, 2016

Small businesses operating in the Eastern Cape will benefit from a new development programme – a joint initiative between the Small Business Academy (SBA) of the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB) and the Joe Gqabi Economic Development Agency (JoGEDA).

The aim of the programme, which was launched on Monday, is to assist small businesses in the Joe Gqabi District Municipality to grow, create employment and contribute to the economy.

The development programme offered in financially disadvantaged areas in the Eastern Cape - the first of its kind in the area - will see 26 small businesses from Aliwal North, Sterkspruit, Lady Grey, Ugie and Maclear receive sponsored business tuition and mentorship support from USB academic staff and alumni over a nine month period.

The course covers from training in general management, finances, marketing, computer skills, business plan development, to personal development, mentoring, and practical workshops. 

With more than 35% of the region unemployed, Mr Ayanda Gqoboka, Chief Executive Officer of JoGEDA,  says this partnership will bring a wave of change to the area.

“The biggest challenge we face in the SMME sector within the Joe Gqabi District is primarily a lack of information and formal business training. Almost all historically disadvantaged entrepreneurs in the region are survivalist businesses with little knowledge as to how to grow their businesses or how to leverage resources to move up a level. This platform will be the first of its kind in the region and will greatly support and encourage entrepreneurs to strengthen their businesses.”

SBA Head Dr Marietjie Theron-Wepener says that supporting less privileged communities with business skills development is a key part of USB’s philosophy and strategy.

“We launched the Small Business Academy in 2012 with the aim to meaningfully engage with society by empowering small business owners in low-income communities with business education and mentorship.

“The successes that small business owners achieved who participated in the SBA Development Programme in the Western Cape over the past four years have been astounding. This encouraged us to venture into the Eastern Cape where such support could make a difference, not only to the lives and businesses of the programme participants, but also to the overall economy of the area. We found that the mentorship element of this programme is the key success factor. We are excited about the new programme in the Eastern Cape and hope to make a significant impact with our programme.”

The first group of participants in the SBA Development Programme, sponsored by JoGEDA, were admitted after a strict selection process, including an aptitude test and an interview.

They will complete their course in June 2017 and receive a certificate from Stellenbosch University. The participants’ small businesses range from media, fashion design, agriculture and catering to construction.