UMDONI MUNICIPALITY hosted an SMME (Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises) breakfast at the Cutty Sark Hotel on Thursday, May 17.
In attendance were representatives from various sectors. An informative presentation by Mr Kelebone Rantsho from the Department of Small Business Development was preceded by Mr Karthigan Pillay from the Small Enterprise Finance Agency (SEFA) and Mr Kunene from the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA).
The aim of the breakfast was to engage with SMMEs and inform them of the funding opportunities available for developing their businesses, and the state of SMMEs in SA.
The event also discussed ways to educate and motivate entrepreneurs and small business owners to establish relevant business contacts by means of knowledge-sharing and inspiring stories. During Mr Rantsho’s presentation, he mentioned that the national Local Economic Development (LED) programme aims to drive municipalities.
“Umdoni has so much potential as it is a tourist hub. Abandoned buildings could be turned into thriving businesses,” said Mr Rantsho. “At SEDA, we discovered that many SMMEs and entrepreneurs do not know how to overcome the challenges they are faced with during the first three years of business.
“We at SEDA can change that and we call on Umdoni to organise monthly one-on-one meetings with businesses, at a specific venue, so that we can engage with them, as that would assist the SMMEs,” said Mr Kunene. Some of the small businesses were given insight into which channels to follow, but what stood out, was the fact that the [LED department?] is in the forefront of guiding municipalities regarding which avenues the business community needs to explore, but it appears that Umdoni has failed in this regard. As Mayor Dube put it,
“We admit that Umdoni has not done much to encourage the business community. We aren’t doing enough to ensure that the LED department is helping local businesses and this needs to change.” SMMEs are the key to developing nations in that they are the drivers of economic growth and diversification, through their development of new and untapped sectors of the economy.
They are essential for a competitive and efficient market. Often based in areas outside of the urban sphere, they are crucial to poverty reduction and to increasing economic activity.
During the question and answer sessions, it became clear that many small businesspeople felt that Umdoni needs to turn things around when it comes to its LED policy, which should be the central access point to information and research for small businesses.
As one of the guests, Rosemary Rodriguez commented, “Umdoni fails to supply necessary information when it comes to business.
We cannot sit at meeting after meeting without deriving some benefit.
The LED department needs to engage with small businesses regularly.” A first for Umdoni, it is hoped that this breakfast will be the gateway to bigger things to come and that a turn-around strategy at Umdoni will prevail.