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Exciting times for small business - Zulu

| Economic factors

The minister of Small Business Development, Lindiwe Zulu, had a spring in her step as she was swept off from one interview to another following Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene’s budget speech on Wednesday.

Nene had just given her new ministry some much needed funding, as it attempts to unlock the doors for battling small businesses and thus reduce the country's gloomy unemployment figures of over 24%.

“Over the MTEF [medium term expenditure framework] period, Minister Zulu’s new department will spend R3.5bn on mentoring and training support to small businesses,” said Nene.

“The amount of money that the minister [Nene] announced today,” Zulu told Fin24 outside parliament, “I’m adding another R20m to it, because R20m is sitting somewhere else,” she said.

Big support for small business

The minister was referring to the interest she has received from big business as well as other departments.

“The support I got from the private sector was very exciting, because most of the big companies are also sitting with something for SMEs, so we’re engaging with them.”

“Members of the cabinet … want to have a conversation because we have to sign transversal agreements,” she said. “Many of them recognise the fact that they have something to offer for SMEs.”

“You look at [higher] education for instance,” she said.  “We were talking this morning that part of the training which we are talking about, which is desperately needed, for SMEs can happen at that level.”

“Young people coming out of school … can now be assisted in understanding that they don’t necessarily have to go looking for a job,” she said. “They can also start their own businesses and there is support for them, both financial and non-financial … that government is giving.”

Time to get down to small business

“Small business is big business, as the president said in the state of the nation address,” she said. “Everyone has been looking forward to whether I was going to get a budget so that I can then be able to operate independently from the department of trade and industry.”

“The amount of money that we got was of course exciting for us, particularly because we were formed as a department at the most … difficult of times,” she said. “The economy is not doing very well and the revenue that we have is not very good.”

Zulu is satisfied with her allocation of the budget and will work with it. “I will go knocking in other departments because I think for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), some of the resources are sitting somewhere else.”

Rather than coming into conflict with other departments that might see small business demands as a threat to their constituents, Zulu said they have all been very supportive. “I am getting a very good response,” she said.

Nene on small business

“From April 2015, a central supplier database will be introduced,” Nene told members of parliament. “Suppliers will only be required to register once when they do business with the state. This will significantly reduce the administrative burden for business, especially small and medium-sized enterprises.

“The 2015 Budget tax proposals aim to increase tax revenues as required, limit the erosion of the corporate tax base, increase incentives for small businesses and promote a greener economy.”

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