Offering entrepreneurs support beyond money

“60% of entrepreneurs who walk through our doors are not asking for money,” said Oscar Siziba, head of Absa Business Banking in Gauteng.

Siziba was addressing a room of entrepreneurs and members of Corporate SA at the Absa Centre of Entrepreneurship, event in Newtown on Thursday.

According to Siziba, the landscape for local startups has shifted dramatically, as costs to start and run a business – especially the day-to-day expenses – have increased.

To address this the centre, which was launched less than a year ago, gives entrepreneurs access to free non-financial support such as communications technology, office equipment and space or business consultation and training to entrepreneurs.

Through the centre, Absa has helped over 1500 entrepreneurs.

Non-financial support for SMEs

The early stage costs of a startup are traditionally the most common challenges for the new entrepreneur. Sibiza said the centre has managed to cut the costs traditionally associated with starting and running a business through offering meeting rooms, presentation facilities, hot desks and boardrooms.

He also added that Absa will be offering new services that include BEE certificates and internet connectivity.

According to Absa’s 2013 SME Index stats, more than 23 000 SMEs and 3450 corporate buyers are registered on their database, and are actively using the bank’s Procurement Portal, a virtual marketplace that connects SME suppliers with Blue Chip companies and government bodies.

Young entrepreneurs find success

The centre at the event also introduced their recent entrepreneurial success stories – Vonani Mathebula and Evans Parsons, whose businesses, according to the centre, demonstrated significant growth, development and profitability, while taking advantage of the centre’s services; both business owners run 100% black-owned and profitable media and communications companies.

Brains Empowerment is led by Vonani Mathebula, the company publishes Successful Women magazine, a publication offering career and financial advice to business women, which has sold 33 800 copies to date.

Evans Parsons’ Vensy Media aims to be the major link between society and the sports industry. Parsons says his five year goal is to expand to 120 employees and provide copies of Ibholalabantu, a soccer news publication, to countries in Africa.

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