I recently hosted a panel discussion at the Durban Business Fair. My panel was discussing the funding opportunities for SMMEs. My panelists were the regional heads of the National Empowerment Fund (NEF), Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA) and the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA).
I was eager to try and scratch beneath the surface of the many promises that the government has made in relation to the funding that is available to small businesses in South Africa. I wanted to interrogate whether this mooted funding was indeed available and to what extent and under what conditions it was being disbursed to beneficiaries.
My impression is that, when pressed, the heads of these organisations could not make compelling arguments for the efficacy of their own work nor even for their own existence relative to the other funding organs. My sense is that the Development Bank of South Africa (DBSA), which underwrites these funds, needs to fundamentally reconsider its approach to this challenge. Otherwise, it will continue throwing good money after bad.