In a joint effort to bolster economic growth, create jobs, and empower small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the Western Cape Government’s Department of Economic Development and Tourism (DEDAT) and the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) have officially announced a groundbreaking multi-year SME development programme. The initiative aims to stimulate the growth of the SME sector in the Western Cape province of South Africa, which is recognized as the largest exchange on the African continent.
The SME Accelerator Programme, a unique collaboration between the public and private sector, seeks to empower 100 carefully selected small and medium-sized businesses with access to expertise and funding required for expansion and job creation. The three-year programme will encompass a range of initiatives to facilitate the development and growth of SMEs in the region.
Mireille Wenger, the Western Cape Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, expressed her enthusiasm for the programme during the launch event, stating, “It is a great pleasure to officially launch the SME Accelerator Programme, a unique collaboration with the highly esteemed Johannesburg Stock Exchange. This partnership ensures that 100 small and medium-sized businesses gain access to the expertise they need to expand and create more job opportunities in South Africa.”
During its first year, the programme will focus on a ‘capital matching’ initiative, where SMEs will be introduced to capital providers interested in funding businesses during their growth phases. The Capital Matching Roadshow, hosted in Cape Town, aims to match 100 companies predominantly from five sectors: tourism and film, agriculture and agricultural processing, real estate, the green economy and technology, and manufacturing with capital providers. The ultimate goal is to upscale these SMEs, driving job creation and increased economic activity.
Premier Alan Winde emphasized the significance of SMEs for the province’s economy, stating, “Small and medium-sized businesses are the heart and soul of our economy. I welcome all initiatives and measures that help SMEs realize their full potential.” He further referenced the Growth for Jobs (G4J) strategy, a comprehensive plan that charts the Western Cape’s economic growth and job creation trajectory towards a trillion-rand, jobs-rich, inclusive economy by 2035.
The SME Accelerator Programme is designed to be a three-phase initiative:
- Recruitment of SMEs: The first phase involves identifying and recruiting suitable SMEs from various sectors in the Western Cape province.
- Capital or Investor Readiness Support: The selected SMEs will receive guidance and support to ensure they are investor-ready, enabling them to attract the necessary capital for their growth.
- Investment Case Presentation: In the final phase, a dedicated event in Cape Town will provide the participating SMEs with an opportunity to present their investment cases to potential investors for funding consideration.
Leila Fourie, JSE Group CEO, expressed the JSE’s commitment to driving SME growth and facilitating access to capital. She said, “We devote significant resources in our business to provide tangible solutions to fast-track SME growth and facilitate access to capital. This new initiative with the WCG is a significant aspect of the JSE’s strategy to align our activities and services with the needs of our clients and country.”
The collaboration between the Western Cape Government and the Johannesburg Stock Exchange underscores the critical role of the private sector, entrepreneurs, and SMMEs in job creation. The government’s aim is to create an enabling environment for economic growth, making it easier for businesses to thrive.
As the SME Accelerator Programme takes off, businesses and entrepreneurs across the Western Cape are encouraged to explore the opportunities presented by the capital matching initiative. For further information on the programme and entry criteria for SMEs, interested parties can visit the official JSE website at https://www.jse.co.za/me/sponsorships-events/sme-capital-matching-initiative.
Minister Wenger expressed her anticipation for the future progress and expansion of the participating SMEs, as the programme sets in motion a ripple effect of economic growth, job creation, and prosperity in the region.
The SME Accelerator Programme stands as a testament to the power of collaboration between the public and private sectors, working together to shape a prosperous future for South Africa, where opportunities abound, and economic potential is unleashed. With the Western Cape Government and the JSE at the helm of this transformative initiative, there is much to look forward to in the coming years.