Absa Bank Ltd (Absa), a member of Barclays Africa Group Ltd, and the Royal Bafokeng Nation today (Thursday) launched a Supplier Development Programme in Phokeng, North West. The initiative will benefit hundreds of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the province.

The programme will provide small businesses access to procurement opportunities in the supply chains of the Royal Bafokeng Nation and other corporate and government institutions in the province. Local companies have committed to procuring goods and services worth R400-million from SMEs, and it is expected that 300 small businesses will benefit from this commitment.

KeaObaka Mahuma, Head of Enterprise and Supply Chain Development at Absa, says: “We recognise the importance of SMEs as an engine of economic growth. As a bank, we are committed to developing sustainable SMEs in corporate supply chains.

Access to development finance

“By collaborating with the Royal Bafokeng, Absa will be able to provide their SME suppliers - that would not qualify for lending through traditional channels - with access to development finance. We will also assist the SMEs with business support through a new state-of-the-art enterprise development centre. By unlocking the potential of SMEs, Absa can play a meaningful role in supporting job creation in the communities of Phokeng and help them prosper,” says Mahuma.

Under the Supplier Development Programme, small businesses may access funding under Absa’s R250-million Enterprise Development Fund. This fund is available to SMEs that do not meet traditional lending criteria but have ability to generate income in the future.

SMEs, however, need more than just funding to succeed as they also have other challenges. They experience a high failure rate mainly due to a lack of business and financial management skills. Accordingly, all funding advanced under the Supplier Development Programme will be linked to a nonfinancial support package to improve the business owners’ business and financial management skills and to provide them with networking opportunities.

Hub for small business owners

Small businesses also often struggle to penetrate existing markets, or create new ones, especially when competing against established businesses. All businesses assisted under the programme are offered access to Absa’s Procurement Portal, a virtual platform that links SME suppliers with blue-chip companies and government bodies, to encourage corporates to buy more services and products from SMEs. To date there are more than 32 000 SMEs and 4 800 corporate buyers actively using the portal.

The Supplier Development Programme also includes the establishment of the Royal Bafokeng Centre of Entrepreneurship. The centre is a hub for small businesses owners where they can receive training, access to computers and boardrooms, and benefit from networking opportunities.

The partners involved in Absa’s latest entrepreneurship initiative include Royal Bafokeng Holdings and Fraser Alexander. The Royal Bafokeng Enterprise Development Centre now brings to eight the number of such centres Absa operates across the country. It will be open Monday-Friday 09:00 – 16:00, and is located at the following address:

Royal Bafokeng Enterprise Development Centre
Direpotsana Road