This govt program aims to boost rural and township entrepreneurs

The Department of Small Business Development has released the details of its dedicated program to boost rural and township entrepreneurs.

Dubbed the “Township Rural Entrepreneurs Programme” (TREP), which was launched last year, the department has partnered with its agencies, the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda) and the Small Enterprise Finance Agency.

TREP is a dedicated program to transform and integrate opportunities in townships and rural areas into productive business ventures.

The department said the initial aim of the programme was to overcome the legacy of economic exclusion, by creating a conducive environment for entrepreneurial activity and providing dedicated business support to enterprises in rural and township areas.

This included access to funding, which was sorely lacking in South Africa.

It said channels that were being focused on included one-stop-shop business support service, remote business incubation, business skills training, product development support, credit guarantees, pitch-for-funding, and access to funding including working capital.

“Township or rural-based entrepreneurs must apply for support including funding through the common application template from the Small Enterprise Development Agency, the Small Enterprise Finance Agency, the National Empowerment Fund and the National Youth Development Agency. Owners of the business must be South African nationals,” the department said.

This govt program aims to boost rural and township entrepreneurs

It highlighted different schemes that were available for entrepreneurs that qualify for the programme.

“(They include) the small-scale bakeries and confectionaries support programme, the autobody repairers and mechanics support programme, the butcheries support programme, the clothing, leather and textiles support programme, fruits and vegetables, personal care, spaza shop, tshisanyama and cooked food support programmes,” the department noted.

The different programmes have various criteria, objectives and financial packages.

For example, for the small-scale bakeries and confectionaries programme, blended finance was offered with half the amount being approved as a grant. A maximum of R350,000 would go towards working capital and the cost of equipment.

The Spaza Shop Support Scheme aimed to formalise the informal businesses and help them transition to micro enterprises, the department said. These shops needed to serve as a market for locally manufactured goods and be strengthened as local convenience centres.

“The spaza shop must be owner-managed and operated, must hold a licence to trade, must be willing to submit a monthly management, [and] must be operating in a township or rural area,” the department said.

According to Seda’s 2020/21 annual performance programme, 4019 spaza shops were supported through the programme. Approximately 2954 SMMEs were assisted with access to finance, and 42% of SMMEs were successful in receiving financial aid through the programme.

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