Absa and the UK Trade and Investment partner to boost small business development

16 May 2012 Absa

Absa and UK Trade and Investment, through the Micro Enterprise Development Organisation (MEDO) have signed a partnership agreement aimed at providing support to South African small and micro businesses.

MEDO, which connects large companies with emerging micro and small enterprises that are at least 50% black-owned,will be responsible for providing support to Absa’s Enterprise Development Unit with mobile entrepreneurship centres, regional entrepreneur walk-in centres and an international trade workshop programme.

Judi Sandrock, CEO of MEDO, explains that with MEDO’s input, the walk-in centres will function as a one-stop shop where entrepreneurs will be able to access all the information they need to make a success of their businesses.

“Services on offer include business assessments, training workshops, business advice, exposure to potential investors and opportunities for international trade. Twelve centres will be rolled out across the country this year,” she said.

Ms Sandrock adds that with MEDO’s involvement, Absa will be able to provide a greater range of services, encouraging the development of businesses and therefore employment across the country.

Sisa Ntshona, Absa’s Head of Enterprise Development, says small and micro enterprises have always faced many challenges apart from access to finance, and these include access to markets and access to incubation through training, coaching and mentoring.

He says this partnership will go a long way to assist small and micro enterprises to find their feet to grow and develop into successful businesses.

Ntshona notes that the South African government has implemented various strategies aimed at assisting small business development, which is seen as critical to the supply of jobs to a large number of South Africans.

However, he adds that, access to operational and infrastructural guidance is also a challenge experienced by the small businesses.

“The solutions to these challenges are equally different. Requirements such as technical infrastructure, accounting expertise, legal advice, process design, staff management, administrative controls and governance, are some of the issues small businesses struggle with on a daily basis,” says Ntshona.

Ntshona says the mobile entrepreneurship centres, regional entrepreneur walk-in centres and an international trade workshop programme will certainly help small and micro enterprises to not only be sustainable but grow into thriving and successful businesses that also contribute to job creation in the long run.

Duncan Hill, Deputy British Trade Commissioner, says the venture between Absa and the UK Trade and Investment to boost South African small and micro businesses is viewed as key to ensuring that both countries achieve their aim of doubling trade by 2015.

As part of the project, MEDO is aiming to train 400 entrepreneurs by December 2012, honing their foundation in business skills before introducing them to the basics of international trade.

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