South Africa: Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams – Shetradesza Youth Seminar

Remarks by the Minister of Small Business Development, Mrs. Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams at the SheTradesZa Youth Seminar

Moderator Ms Mavimbela;

NYDA CEO Mr. Carrim;

Ms. Cherian;

Participating friends;

Ladies and gentlemen

Over the past few months, my department and I have traveled across the country, held roadshows, and met with small business owners and budding start-ups.

Some of you, including the NYDA, have been with us on this trip to some of the provinces we visited. So far, we have organized road shows in eight provinces.

KwaZulu-Natal is the last province we will visit. In each of the provinces we visited, we met mainly young people who wanted to contribute to the growth of the country’s economy.

Too often, we are given the impression that young people are a lost generation, lacking direction and the will to contribute meaningfully to society. It is therefore fun and extremely exciting to participate in events like this, and to see young people and women who are brimming with new ideas about how we can move our country forward.

In my department, we have several programs, aimed at empowering small businesses, The Department of Small Business Development and SEDA have formed a partnership with the International Trade Center (ITC),

To bring the SheTrades program to South Africa and create a SheTradesZA hub. The program aims to empower women-owned businesses to trade locally, regionally and internationally.

The hub supports building the business skills and competitiveness of at least 10,000 South African women entrepreneurs over a four-year period. Currently, nearly 3,000 South African women entrepreneurs are already registered on the SheTradesZA Hub, and receive free e-learning and capacity building.

The SheTradesZA Hub will also improve access to investment for women-owned businesses and foster business opportunities.

DSBD and Seda’s involvement in the She-Trades Hub demonstrates our commitment to developing and ensuring women’s economic empowerment in South Africa.

My department, its agencies, and our partners in the International Trade Center (ITC), the European Union, and the EDSE program, seek to increase and strengthen the meaningful participation of youth and women in this economy.

The Township and Rural Entrepreneurship Program (TREP) is a program dedicated to transforming and integrating opportunities in townships and rural areas into productive business ventures. The goal is to create platforms that provide the business support infrastructure and regulatory environment that allows entrepreneurs to thrive.

We also have the Youth Challenge Fund (YCF), which is a support program for young start-ups aimed at stimulating the creation and growth of youth-owned businesses, promoting digital skills, growing the economy and promote job creation.

A few months ago, I presented the department’s budget speech for the 2022/2023 financial year. We are convinced that there will be an equitable flow of funds between the provinces. The R2 billion SEFA funding envelope will see over R200 million disbursed to each province, and slightly more for poorer rural provinces such as Limpopo, Free State, North West, Eastern Cape, Mpumulanga and the Northern Cape. We are deliberate on the repair. These 2 billion rand should support 84,831 SMEs and cooperatives creating 104,968 jobs.

I mention all of the above to illustrate the kind of work we have done to help grow the small business sector and create much-needed jobs. If small businesses succeed, the country succeeds. National Development has given us the mission to create 11 million jobs by 2030.

9 million of those job opportunities must come from small businesses. Often, as a government, we are accused of throwing money at problems. Without much care and oversight to see if the money we spend is being put to good use and contributing to service delivery. From my ministry, we don’t just disburse funds, we go further in our processes.

We are currently in the process of merging SEFA and SEDA, and the Cooperative Banks Development Agency into one agency to ensure our funding processes are transparent and user-friendly. As many of you have noted, during his state of the nation address, President Ramaphosa announced the appointment of a bureaucratic czar, to help us coordinate stakeholders to facilitate start-up and conduct of business and to develop our economy. Although misunderstood by some, we support this initiative and believe it will go a long way to breaking down some of the barriers faced by small businesses.

President Ramaphosa made another remark which, for no apparent reason, was controversial. He reminded us that the government does not create jobs, it is the private sector that does and that the role of the government was to facilitate the task of entrepreneurs. It is therefore incumbent on us to harness the hunger and dynamism of small businesses to succeed. The success of small businesses will lead to a significant reduction in unemployment.

Once again, I appreciate your invitation to participate in this important event. My door is always open for us to work together to make this country a better place for our young people, our women and all its citizens.

I thank you.

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