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SMEs get R1.5bn boost

| Economic factors

The private sector has set aside R1.5bn to help small and medium enterprises survive the tough economic climate.

The announcement was made by Discovery CEO Adrian Gore during a briefing at the Union Buildings on Monday where government, labour and business shared the progress made by the work streams established by President Jacob Zuma to assist the country to avoid a credit downgrade.

“The fund is a private sector initiative but we are hoping that government contributes. ... we are focusing on what business can provide. We have injected R1.5bn into the fund but ultimately we are hoping to raise R3bn,” Gore told reporters.

Support has been "overwhelming" and this "bodes well for the future", said Gore.

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa said government wants  to see the fund increased to double digits to ensure small businesses can be assisted to create jobs.

“We want to see it going to R10bn so that it can support entrepreneurs who are the great job creators in the economy,” said Ramaphosa.

Zuma in February this year convened a meeting of chief executive officers of major companies and captains of industry to discuss ways in which they could work together to reignite economic growth and create jobs.

“I mandated the minister of finance to lead a process of engaging with the private sector in particular to map out a strategy to the goal of growing the economy. Leaders from labour and business joined the minister of finance on a roadshow abroad early this year to promote the country and prevent a possible credit ratings downgrade. The hard work is paying off, and we saw the evidence this weekend with the announcement by Moody’s.”

Zuma said Moody’s has acknowledged that the country is at a turning point following years of weak economic growth. He attributed that to the collaborative efforts of all the stakeholders involved.

He said despite the fact that the economy is showing signs of recovery, the level of growth has been much weaker than previously anticipated.


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