R300 million fund to stimulate SMEs in manufacturing sector

Updated on 1 October 2014

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R300 million fund to stimulate SMEs in manufacturing sector

Business Partners Limited, an SME specialist risk finance company, yesterday launched its R300 million manufacturing fund as part of its ‘square peg movement’ campaign to stimulate entrepreneurship in South Africa.

According to Nazeem Martin, Business Partners MD, the manufacturing sector has the potential to accelerate the country’s development.

“Manufacturing is a wealth-producing sector and South Africa’s diversified manufacturing industry needs to be supported to create long-term economic growth,” he said.

Manufacturing vital for other sectors

For SMEs in the manufacturing sector, Martin said that potential exists to supply the market both with locally and internationally high quality products at competitive prices. The fund targets businesses in sectors such as agri-processing, engineering, textiles and clothing production and green industries, among others.

Recent reports by Statistics South Africa reveal that the sector’s contribution towards the country’s GDP dropped from 19% in 2000 to the 15.2% in 2013.

“The manufacturing sector in a developing country is not only vital for economic prosperity and job creation, but is also an economic growth facilitator of other sectors, such as the service industry,” said Martin.

The fund will offer both financial support and mentorship with hopes of reducing the risks inherent in the industry.

Square peg movement

Business Partners launched its ‘square peg movement’, which according to Martin, is meant to reinforce and strengthen Business Partners’ commitment to improving the the level of entrepreneurship in South Africa, and championing entrepreneurship as a answer to the country’s economic growth and job creation challenges.

The movement is fronted by local successful entrepreneurs the likes of:  Herman MashabaVusi Thembekwayo, Margaret Hirsch of HirschsMariaan du Plessis of Medical Nutritional Institute, Ferose Oaten of AVTS Roadworthy Stations and Tommy Makhatho Bibi Cash & Carry.

According to Martin, the campaign will “unshackle and unleash South African entrepreneurs” he said, and “reignite entrepreneurial spirit in South Africa”, which needs the support.

The recent Global Entrepreneur Measure showed that South Africa has a low number of intentional entrepreneurs with only 12.8% electing entrepreneurship as their first option, compared to 27% in similar economies.

“We have some work to do” said Martin who says they hope more people need to need to think of entrepreneurship as a viable career path.

Public-Private partnership punted

Also at the event was Minister of the Small Business Development, Lindiwe Zulu, who in her address said that there was much that her department could learn from the work that the private sector had done and that her department supported the work of the private sector in the entrepreneurial space.

She also called for greater partnership between the public and private sectors to meet challenges faced by the county.

“This opportunity to pass on the message that from where I sit, I believe in partnering with those who have been there” she said referring to Business Partner’s 33-year-old history.

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