President Cyril Ramaphosa has encouraged the private sector to buy local goods in an effort to create jobs in the country.
“We really need our corporates to come on board for us to build strong local capabilities. We are not asking corporates to buy goods for the sake of buying locally. We are saying that they should buy local quality goods that can compete with the ones that they are importing and that creates much needed jobs in the country,” the President said on Thursday.
He was addressing a webinar on Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) and Cooperatives supported by the Department of Small Business Development.
“To achieve an inclusive economy we need to more effectively support the growth of vibrant and sustainable small, medium and micro enterprises and cooperatives.”
In his address to the webinar, the President said one of the key elements of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan is localisation and that government expects SMMEs and co-operatives to play a central role in driving localisation.
He said some work has already been done by the Department of Small Business Development to introduce SMMEs and co-operatives to wholesalers and retailers.
“The department is already supporting those that need assistance with certification, quality improvements, compliance and the like. There is really no excuse for not buying locally.
“To enable SMMEs and cooperatives to meet the potential demand, our Manufacturing Scheme is supporting these enterprises to build capacity to supply products in the right quality and quantity,” the President said.
Government has set aside targets for designated groups to help those who in the past were locked out of playing a role in the economy.
“At least 40% must go to women-owned enterprises, 30% to youth-owned enterprises and 7% to companies owned by persons with disabilities. These targets apply across government and all departments are expected to deliver on them,” the President said.
Business Viability Scheme
Meanwhile, the department has developed a Business Viability Scheme that will help to position SMMEs to drive economic recovery.
“I am impressed with the targeted interventions the department has extended to help enterprises in townships and rural areas. We need to accelerate the implementation of the Township and Rural Entrepreneurship Programme, which will bring a lot more people into the mainstream economy,” said President Ramaphosa.
Recognising the particular needs of different types of businesses, the department has customised interventions for different sub-sectors. These include sectors such as automotive, personal care, clothing and textiles, bakeries and confectioneries, tshisanyamas and cooked food, fruit and vegetable vendors, butcheries and spaza shops.
“Through the Township and Rural Entrepreneurship Programme we are providing both financial support and business development assistance.
“The other critical mandate of this department is driving entrepreneurship, particularly youth entrepreneurship,” the President said.
Supporting business during the pandemic
When the whole world was hit by the COVID-19 pandemic last year, government introduced interventions to assist businesses that were affected.
The Department of Small Business Development, together with the Small Enterprise Finance Agency (SEFA), reprioritised over R500 million to establish the SMME Debt Relief Scheme.
“This was to help small businesses stay afloat during this difficult time. It has been reported that, as a result of the funds paid out under this scheme, over 23,000 jobs were saved.
“Of the SMMEs approved for support, 67% were black owned, 33% were female owned and 21% were owned by young people. It is a concern, however, that only 0.3% were owned by persons with disabilities,” the President said.
The SEFA extended payment holidays on capital and interest payments of up to six months to 220 direct lending clients and six wholesale lending clients.
The total value of interest and capital repayments foregone by SEFA was approximately R106 million, resulting in over 37,000 jobs being saved.
“Given the limitation of resources it is commendable that so many businesses received support within such a short space of time. To some of these enterprises this has been life support,” Ramaphosa said
As the country makes the transition from relief to recovery, the President said it is critical for government to continue to provide support to enable companies to recover.
“We therefore set up major schemes like the credit guarantee scheme of R200 billion. At the same time, we need to introduce new business processes, technologies and equipment to assist them to adjust to the new reality,” the President said.