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Significant shift in local SME development

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The new National Gazelles integrated business growth acceleration programme has proven to be in line with the latest global research and best practices for SME development.
The South African Institute of Chartered Accounts (SAICA) in September released its 2015 SME Insight Survey. According to the report, which surveyed 1,300 business owners across the country, the success of SMEs increases with mentorship and technical assistance.
The report highlights the need for SMEs to receive regular strategic guidance, to reduce the risk of failure and increase their development. This is the key focus area in the Gazelles programme.
“At the heart of the National Gazelles is a High Care Platform (HCP), which provides this exact kind of intensive support strategy and guidance,” says Lindiwe Zulu, Minister of Small Business Development in South Africa. “The HCP consists of specialist business development services providers, who provide each participating SME with the right technical and operational advice to enhance their processes, infrastructure and managerial skills, access to markets, and general productive capacity.
“Through our approach of focusing on providing specialist advice and business opportunities, we are creating a significant shift in local SME development, ensuring that every small business has the support it needs to operate as closely as possible to its maximum potential,” she adds.
The National Gazelles is an initiative of the Department of Small Business Development and the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA). It was launched in September 2015 as a 10-year programme to accelerate the growth of 200 high potential small businesses each year.
As part of the HCP, each SME receives:
* Facilitated access to growth funding, grants and business incentives
* Detailed analysis of business to ensure sound support roadmap
* Access to key decision-makers and business networks
* Development of effective, robust growth-focused business strategies
* Access to top business, technical and marketing specialists
* Overseas trade visit opportunities with government and private sector
* Customised local, regional and national tender information service.
Speaking on how the Gazelles programme aligns to the latest global research and best practices, SEDA chairman Dr Ivor Zwane says: “Research has shown that SMEs only start to meaningfully contribute to job creation when they grow to R2 million or more in turnover. It is therefore key and beneficial to job creation to support the growth of existing SMEs. For this reason, the National Gazelles intervention is post start-up. It absorbs SMEs who have already successfully navigated the start-up phase and are now positioned for growth.
“By focusing on businesses who have already survived their first few years, the programme is our way of meeting the objectives of the National Development Plan, which includes SMEs creating 90% of jobs by 2030.”
To qualify for the National Gazelles programme, SMEs need to have an annual turnover of between R1-million and R30-million, among other criteria.
Together with providing technical support and guidance, the programme also encourages peer-to-peer collaboration, knowledge sharing and learning between SMEs through its online portal.