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Entrepreneurship Expo 2016 Growing the economy by helping SMMEs succeed

UWC’s Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation - supporting SMMEs, growing the SA economy

The University of the Western Cape hosted another successful Entrepreneurship Expo in September 2016 - where many local and national business people had the chance to learn about crucial business areas.

Earlier this month, Minister of Small Business Development Lindiwe Zulu said Black Businesses are still struggling to enter the marketplace and succeed - and even after 22 years of democracy in South Africa, SMMEs are still struggling.

To help address this problem, UWC’s Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation brought together a team of experts to help businesses succeed and grow the economy.

One of those experts was Gordon Sharman, from ABSA’s Enterprise Supplier Development programme.

“The reason 90% of businesses fail in the first year is because of a lack of access to crucial areas,” Sharman noted - which is why ABSA provides access to funding, business development support and access to markets.

“We also have the ABSA Development Credit Fund, Women’s Empowerment Fund and the SMME Fund available to businesses.”

George Cloete, Assistant Director of the Department of Economic Development and Trade, mentioned that businesses need to be very aware of the amended BBBEE codes (amended in March 2016).

“We established a BBBEE Commission and also introduced various criminal offences for misrepresentation of providing information regarding a firm’s BBBEE status - an ongoing problem in the country,” he said.

Government strengthened the application for the codes to all organs of the state and public entities. A statutory right was introduced for government and public entities to cancel any contract awarded due to false info and BBBEE status.

“An offender may be subjected to a fine or imprisonment not exceeding 10 years, or to both a fine and imprisonment,”  said Cloete. “If it is an enterprise and not a natural person, it could be subject to a fine of up to 10% of its turnover. Cancellation of contracts with government will take place immediately, and no contract with any sphere of government will be awarded for up to ten years.”

Lionel Achilles, Deputy Director of the Department of Trade and Industry, spoke about the various incentive schemes available for SMMEs, and how they can help businesses attain success.

“We have many aids to help your business,” he said. “Our broadening participation scheme is one we focus on. It is divided into these programme, namely, the incubation support programme, the support programme for industrial innovation, the technology and human resources for industry programme, and the black industrialists scheme.”

Riyahd Motha from SARS’ Education Branch Operations said businesses need to pay more attention when it comes to business tax. Small businesses are often unaware of the savings they qualify for - such as the reduction of tax for SMMEs - when registering with SARS as a small business. Businesses across the board are taxed at a flat rate of 28%, but when you let SARS know you are a small business, you are taxed at a lower rate - which can make a crucial difference for SMMEs.

“Businesses and even individuals often think they are smarter than what they are,” Motha said. “But it is very important to keep your tax up to date and in order - SARS will catch up to you and that is an expense that you could have saved in penalties.”

“These workshops are the best way for businesses to stay in the loop with changes in industry regulations, norms and practices,” noted Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation Director, Charleen Duncan. “UWC will continue to keep SMMEs ahead of their game - thus helping the economy grow.”