SMME support, Buy Eastern Cape priorities in coming term

The Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism plans “to play a major role in the further development and growth of the SMME sector both nationally and provincially.” MEC Sakhumzi Somnyo said today.

Presenting his Policy Speech, the MEC said in the next term government had decided to prioritise support to SMMEs.

He said the sector had grown significantly since 1996 and SMMEs “have come to play an increasingly important role in South Africa's economy and development.

“With the creation of a National Department for SMME’s, DEDEAT will review the EC Provincial Strategy for Promotion of Entrepreneurship and Small Enterprises and seek to play a major role in the further development and growth of the sector both nationally and provincially.”

The MEC said the Department would continue to support SMMEs and cooperatives through the ECDC and other partners such as the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA) and Small Enterprise Finance Agency (SEFA).

At the same time it would work together with these agencies and the national department “to ensure an integrated and comprehensive approach to financial and non-financial support for SMMEs,” adding that it was planned that over 820 SMMEs and 230 cooperatives would be supported in the Province over the MTEF.

He said linked to the development of SMMEs, the Department would continue to work with other stakeholders “to ensure localisation of manufacturing and trade through the Buy Eastern Cape campaign. All the business chambers in the Province are on board in the rollout of the programme and so are key departments”.

He said a specific focus of the localisation effort was “the drive for enforcement of local content commitments forming part of the contracts awarded to Independent Power Producers in the Province.

“The wind and solar farms have been required to make commitments in terms of job creation, shareholding by local communities (reaching up to 40% in the most recent round), preferential procurement for qualifying SMMEs and black- and women- owned companies, enterprise development and contributions to socio-economic development.

“These commitments represent significant opportunities for local SMMEs – not only as Tier 3 suppliers, but also as direct suppliers of services such as security, maintenance, catering accommodation and work-clothing.

The MEC said the department would:

  •  Hold awareness workshops on local supplier opportunities and associated expectations at the earliest opportunity in the project cycle
  • Develop partnerships between established enterprises and emerging local enterprises to ensure meaningful local participation, and
  • Develop business skills of relevant local suppliers on an on-going basis.