According to recent government statistics, the Gauteng economy is worth R811 billion, and has over 5,9 million small businesses owned by more than 5, 5 million entrepreneurs.One of the programmes under the provincial Department of Economic Development (DED), which supports the establishment, growth and sustainability of small businesses in the province, is the Gauteng Enterprise Propeller (GEP).
We unpack the types of assistance that the GEP provides, and how small businesses can access them.
What is GEP?
GEP is a provincial government agency started in 2005 that aims to give micro businesses access to finance, and to integrate SMEs in the mainstream economy. This financial year GEP is working with a budget of just more than R45 million.
What does GEP do?
GEP provides both financial and non-financial support, and co-ordinates stakeholders for the benefit of SMEs in the province.
GEP also provides training to help solve some of the the problems encountered by entrepreneurs in the running of their businesses.
What sets this programme apart from the others?
GEP may not be as well-known as other government’s support programmes such as the Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) Small Enterprise Development Agency and the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) – both who allocate non-payable grants. But GEP CEO, Philisiwe Twala-Tau, has said that the agency still has an important role to play, especially empowering special groupings which include women, youth and the disabled.
GEP is meant to provide access to small businesses to enable them to thrive by providing capital at low interest rates and loosening some of the requirements which make it difficult for them to access funding from traditional funding institutions.
GEP’s non-financial support comes in the form of supplying information and technical advice. Entrepreneurs are assisted by GEP-accredited and experienced service providers to implement customised solutions for their business.
A business relationship manager is appointed to guide and incubate each business. The business relationship manager meets with the entrepreneur to diagnose the problem, recommend a solution and maintains regular contact to check progress.
This helps small businesses improved efficiency, personal service and perform better with limited resources.
Co-operative support programme
The Co-operative support programme aims to reinforce the initiatives of the government to develop and promote co-operatives as a form of small enterprise within the scope of SME support and development in the province.
Objectives of the programme are to increase the competitiveness of the co-operative sector so that it is better positioned to take advantage of opportunities emerging in the markets. It also promotes greater participation by black persons, women; persons with disabilities; and the youth in forming and managing co-operatives.
The integrated execution and relationship team at GEP works with small businesses to customise the right financing solutions to accommodate particular needs and goals.
GEP offers access to finance to micro and small businesses based in Gauteng through the GEP micro-finance loan. The loan fund benefits startups and existing businesses that demonstrate potential for growth and can contribute to the broader economic objective of job creation and poverty eradication in the province.
Loans can be used for startup capital, expansion, franchise acquisition, contracts, bridging, invoice discounting or project finance. The loans begin at R10 000 with R250 000 as a threshold. Interest is charged at a fixed rate of 8% interest rate per annum with a maximum repayment period of 36 months.
Loan applicants should satisfy certain conditions including, be a Gauteng-based South African citizen. The business must be owner-managed with 51% or more black-equity ownership. Also taken into consideration are the skills and experience relevant to the business venture and that the business demonstrates ability to service loan through a repayment plan.
The GEP determines the collateral required on the basis of a feasibility repayment structure of each project and that collateral is subject to loan conditions.
How to Apply
Businesses interested in applying submit an the application form together with supporting documents that include company registration and tax clearance certificate either by mail or personally at any regional offices.