header entdev

How to invest in Enterprise Development

Small to medium enterprises (SMEs) are very powerful tools to create jobs and lift people out of poverty. Investing in ED in South Africa helps to stimulate the growth of black-owned SMEs and draw them into the broader economy, usually through supply chains. Although one traditionally thinks of ED in terms of financial support, there are numerous ways to assist small businesses, including training and mentorship, providing access to markets, funding social programmes, and helping companies to promote their goods and services. Below are several examples of interventions, many of which do not fall into one category only.

Examples of intervention models

Promoting small business

The Eskom Business Investment Competition

For more than a decade, the Eskom Development Foundation has run its annual Business Investment Competition to boost ED. Black-owned, registered small and medium enterprises in the engineering/construction, manufacturing, agriculture/agri-processing and trade/services sectors that have been in operation for at least 24 months are eligible to enter.

Simama Ranta High School Entrepreneurship Education Competition

Eskom initiated this programme in 2010, and the high-school competition is managed by the non-profit Education with Enterprise Trust, which works at promoting entrepreneurship in more than 800 schools throughout South Africa. The annual national competition is judged by a panel representing the Department of Basic Education, the private sector, and experts in entrepreneurship education. The winner is selected from among nine provincial winners

Eskom Small Business Expo

The Small Business Expo has been boosting small business development for more than 15 years, thanks to collaboration between Eskom and Reed Exhibitions. The idea of the expo is to thrust South African small businesses “into the fast lane” by giving them exposure, networking opportunities, and a chance to secure new business partnerships.

Anglo American Enterprise Development – Zimele

Zimele is mining giant Anglo American’s ED arm, established in 1989 to provide funding and support to previously disadvantaged South Africans to create and develop commercially viable and sustainable small and medium enterprises (SMEs). It primarily supports businesses in general business acumen, safety, innovation and technical capability, with access to funding provided as a second step.



Financial support

SMEs: the building blocks of a post-Covid economy

South Africa’s growth path relies on SMEs for both job creation and stimulating economic activities. Secha Capital, an impact investment firm that grows SMEs, has partnered with the Jobs Fund and Caleo Capital to invest in SMEs. Two rounds of funding were launched, with Secha Capital providing operational support, channel access and enhanced technical capabilities to selected SMEs.

The Small Enterprise Finance Agency is a merger of Samaf, Khula Enterprise Finance and the Industrial Development Corporation’s small business activities. It was launched in 2021 as a fully owned subsidiary of the IDC and is a leading catalyst for the development of sustainable SMMEs.

Absa backs initiative to cultivate South Africa’s next 1 000 tech entrepreneurs

Absa Group is partially funding the 1 000 Tech Entrepreneurs Programme, run by technology ecosystem Silicon Durbs, in terms of which aspirant entrepreneurs in South Africa learn how to start and grow their businesses. Absa is currently working with more than 40 entrepreneurs through its WorkInProgress ecosystem.

Sunlight’s More Than You Expect Heroes campaign celebrates women-owned SMEs

Sunlight’s More Than You Expect Heroes is offering business support and resources to the value of R200 000 each for women entrepreneurs who pivoted their business offerings during the pandemic (see News and Opinions). 

Wot-if? assists township entrepreneurs

The Wot-If? Trust assists targeted township entrepreneurs to access and participate in the economy, partnering with likeminded organisations that want to invest their enterprise and supplier development funds into programmes and small enterprises compliant with the B-BBEE Codes. 

Seeds of Africa helps to grow sustainable businesses

The Seeds of Change Enterprise and Supplier Development Programme aligns chosen entrepreneurs with one of three stages of the programme – incubation, consolidation or acceleration – and provides business skills training, mentorship and coaching, and access to business services, markets and interest-free seed capital. 


Training and mentorship

Business Plan Competition (BPC) programme and Acceleration/Incubation programme

US-based non-profit organisation TechnoServe promotes the growth of South Africa’s SMME business sector through ED programmes that provide advice, technical and business capacity building. It has conducted 30 business plan competitions (BCPs) in Africa and Latin America since 2002 – incentivised practical training and business development programmes that help entrepreneurs turn their business ideas into fundable, implementable business plans.

Exxaro establishes Enterprise Development Centre for local entrepreneurs

Exxaro established an Enterprise Development Centre for local entrepreneurs in the township of Mhluzi, in partnership with the Steve Tshwete Local Municipality and mining companies Arnot OpCo, Anglo-American Coal South Africa and Glencore. This is one of the company’s Local Economic Development projects it committed to in its Social and Labour Plan of 2013-2017.                                                                                      

CHIETA promotes youth entrepreneurship in SA

The Chemical Industries Education & Training Authority (CHIETA) facilitates skills development in the chemical industries sector. CHIETA implements programmes that support entrepreneurship development within the sector, focusing on identifying, educating, funding, mentoring and otherwise supporting candidates.