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Opportunity Issue 99

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Opportunity magazine is a niche business-to-business publication that explores various investment opportunities within Southern Africa’s economic sectors and looks to provide its readers with first-hand knowledge about South African business. Opportunity also looks to present South African business to international markets that may have interests in investing in South Africa. The publication is endorsed by the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI).

SMME FUNDING Old

SMME FUNDING Old Mutual’s Masisizane Fund Supporting SMMEs for the Brightest Tomorrow In a strained economy, support is vital for businesses. Even before the coronavirus pandemic reared its ugly head, collaboration was key to ensure smooth operations in the South African economy. This is especially true of those in the SMME sector. Without financial support and operational assistance, many businesses of this type would fold. This is where Old Mutual’s Masisizane Fund shines a bright light and is a beacon of hope for those who need it most. As a funding entity providing financing and support to small, medium and micro enterprises, Old Mutual’s Masisizane Fund specialises in working alongside ventures in the agribusiness, franchising, supply chain sectors and manufacturing and wholesale funding. The clue is in the name, with Masisizane meaning, “Let us help each other”. That ethos is lived by the fund and has proven to ensure that no SMME under their umbrella is left behind. Masisizane Fund’s inner workings Lebogang Serithi, the CEO of Old Mutual’s Masisizane Fund, is passionate about the work the fund carries out. Masisizane was created in 2007, following the closure of the Unclaimed Share Scheme Trust in consultation with the National Treasury. “The purpose of the Masisizane Fund is to provide enterprise development to small, medium and micro enterprises, through the provision of development finance and business support,” Serithi, who is a chartered accountant by training, says proudly. _________________ ____ “And this is exactly why we view what we do as stimulation for a ‘brighter tomorrow’… the Masisizane Fund’s ethos.” ____________________ SMMEs need help more than ever in these tough economic times. Thankfully, Old Mutual’s Masisizane Fund is providing support for those who need it most – and giving South Africa the boost it so badly needs. 66 | www.opportunityonline.co.za

SMME FUNDING The CEO of the Masisizane Fund expands, “We recognise that SMMEs are effective engines of inclusive economic growth and development, and more so in the current economic environment. The sector accounts for a huge number of employment opportunities and growth, and more so today where these businesses can meet the demands of current and potential consumers and stakeholders by being innovative and undertaking activities that accelerate progressive social progress. They also uphold and maintain environmental integrity, which improves economic growth.” With a focus on providing access to enterprises that are 51% or more owned by previously disadvantaged individuals, the Masisizane Fund gives priority to rural and peri-urban township areas, especially those owned by youth, women and people living with disabilities. Masisizane focuses on productive and labour-absorbing sectors, those high-impact industries that will benefit broadly from the Fund’s comprehensive SMME financing solutions that include business support services. Serithi explains that the Fund has a holistic approach to SMME funding and provides both financial and non-financial solutions to clients, which encompasses enquiries management, stakeholder relations, detailed business analysis, due diligence, and most importantly, loan approvals and disbursements for qualifying SMMEs. “Post that investment, we provide value-adding support through a collaborative and bespoke approach to advisory, funding and growth solutions that will enable the businesses to be successful and sustainable. This service is crucial because without business development support, small businesses cannot be competitive and might affect their chances of becoming growing and sustainable businesses.” Masisizane Fund’s partnership-driven approach to SMME development continues to support the national transformation agenda and to grow the economy. Leveraging other funding sources to increase investments and achieve greater impact, the Fund runs several partner programmes, which include but are not limited to the SA SME Fund’s “Franchise Fund 1” programme supporting the fuel services sector in South Africa; Distell Owner Driver programme financing the acquisition of delivery trucks; and the Pick n Pay Township Revitalisation programme aimed at formalising traditional spaza shops. Expanding the portfolio Masisizane Fund has expanded on the sectors it caters for. With the overarching goal being job creation to help fight the incredibly high unemployment rate in South Africa, and to save jobs in the face of the economic disaster brought on by the pandemic, Serithi highlights the tourism, technology, media and telecoms sectors as additional sectors to provide funding to clients. In terms of the reasoning behind working with the tourism sector, Serithi believes the attractive selling point is the sector’s ability to bounce back quickly and allow for job creation. The same can be said for the technology, media and telecoms industry, as it has seen a massive spike in recent times given the advent of working from home and the need for people to stay in constant contact with the people in their lives. Giving SMMEs a fighting chance When it comes to funding models, the majority end their relationship when the money clears, only communicating when repayments need to be made. From a sustainability perspective, the Masisizane Fund believes that the relationship needs to run much deeper than that. SMMEs need support in terms of their operational requirements and building their offering, and that is exactly what sets Masisizane apart from the competition. “What makes us unique is that we provide both financial and non-financial support and services. I think the way in which we have looked at the provision of non-financial support is unique when compared to our competitors, because we provide pre-investment, post-investment support, mentorship and training to entrepreneurs,” Serithi says proudly. “What we have seen over the past 14 years of the Masisizane’s existence is that sustainability is the hardest part of an SMME’s journey. This is why they need specific handholding beyond just the supply of funding. Market research and linkages, financial systems and management training, feasibility studies and business mentorship are skills and knowledge that all need to be provided if SMMEs are to survive and become contributors to the rejuvenation of the country’s economy,” says Serithi. Mr Lebogang Serithi, CEO of Masisizane Fund

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