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Empowerment key to socio-economic growth

The SMME Opportunity Roadshow is set to take place on 20 April 2017 at Emperor’s Palace in Johannesburg with the aim of showcasing opportunities for developing businesses, while also providing focused guidance for SMMEs to mainstream their competitive advantage as effectively as possible. This year, I will be representing REDISA at the annual event to speak about the opportunities that can be found in waste and how these can be used to build the economy through small businesses and entrepreneurship.

The importance of SMMEs is clear. They play a crucial role in creating jobs and developing the economy. In fact, the National Development Plan (NDP) is working to ensure that 90% of employment opportunities will be created by SMMEs by 2030.

Developing an environment in which black-owned SMMEs can thrive is an obvious goal, but not an easy one to achieve. While there are pockets of success, many small business owners are still burdened by numerous obstacles. These include a lack of sustainable market access, skills transfer and difficulties around access to finance.

Unfortunately, our current approach to the empowerment of SMMEs is missing the mark. Results from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) show that most small businesses are not better off today, compared to when they started their businesses. Successful empowerment will not come from simply transferring assets and ownership, nor from handouts, but through putting plans with tangible output requirements into action.

REDISA believes that SMMEs need to be provided with the best chance for success in an otherwise challenging economic environment by adopting a more proactive approach that takes into account the realities of our country’s history.

It is our belief that business support is one way to address the ongoing challenges. At REDISA we have made this possible through the business support programme where advisory and administrative support services are provided by REDISA.

Where the business proves to be viable, the ownership is passed at market value to candidates who meet with specific performance requirements in terms of compliance, operational management, financial management, and product and market development.

This means an entrepreneur is nurtured, trained and equipped with all the necessary skills to be able to make the business a success. In an economic environment as challenging as the one we face, these skills are vital for the continued success of the business and the job creation benefits that follow.

To date we have created opportunity for 257 SMMEs to participate in the Industry and currently have 122 SMME’s active as at December 2016.

We see true empowerment taking shape through providing an environment in which entrepreneurs are able to be mentored and trained, gaining access to markets and the opportunity to be a part of a new pioneering industry.

For us, empowerment is not optional but critical.

Stacey Davidson joined REDISA in 2010 as a director, after working in various industries including finance. Davidson's interest in the economic empowerment of previously disadvantaged communities resulted in her volunteering for community-based organisations such as NICRO, CAFDA, and Triple Trust Organisation. It was Davidson's passion for community development which prompted her to join REDISA.