Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel has called for big business to involve small companies in major projects that are aimed at uplifting the economy.
Patel said the time had come for small businesses to play a major part in the development of the country’s economy.
Speaking during the launch of the Small Enterprise Finance Agency (Sefa) in Parliament yesterday Patel said the newly established agency would play an important role in helping small businesses to grow the economy.
He said Sefa would ensure that small businesses do not miss out on the opportunities that are available in various sectors of the economy.
The formation of Sefa followed the merger of Khula Enterprises, the Small Micro-Apex Fund and the Independent Development Corporation’s small business book, and its role would be to fund small businesses.
During his state of the nation address last year President Jacob Zuma said there was a need to form an agency that would focus on funding small business.
He had said that Khula Enterprises and the other agencies would be brought together and fall under one umbrella. Sefa is a wholly owned subsidiary of the IDC.
Patel said the government’s National Growth Path recognised the importance of small business in the development of the economy.
The establishment of Sefa would be to fulfill the objective of the national growth path.
He said they were initially advised that the merger of the three agencies into a single entity would take between three to five years.
But the Cabinet had insisted that the merger should happen as soon as possible and it was in that context that in just over a year since Zuma made the announcement the merger has been achieved.
The birth of a public funding agency of small business was a step in the right direction, he said.
He said entrepreneurship was vital to any successful economy.
Small business was an important element in unlocking economic opportunities where citizens produce wealth and render services.
“Small businesses are a key component of a competitive economy,” he said, adding that small business brings stability to the economy.
It leads to the participation of many entrepreneurs in many aspects of the economy, said Patel of small business.
Patel said there were a number of things that Sefa should do to help in the development of small business.
“We want Sefa to help us to meet our development goals.
“We want more successful small business,” he said, adding that they want to bring small business into small-scale manufacturing, the green economy, tourism and other sectors of the economy.
He said the IDC can bring small business into major projects that big business is involved in.
Sefa will work with the private sector and “large companies to encourage them to bring small business into their supply chain”.
Patel said they wanted to ensure that the impact of the merger was felt in jobs and sustainable enterprises.