The Department of Small Business Development (DSBD) could be up and running as early as November this year.
In the meantime, business owners can continue to access finance and business development support from the government agencies such as the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda) and the Small Enterprise Finance Agency (Sefa).
Lindiwe Zulu, sworn in by President Jacob Zuma in May as the country’s first minister of small business development, has been tasked with creating a more enabling environment for small businesses.
Speaking to Small Business Connect last month, Zulu said her ministry is “fully functional”.
“Setting up the department will take a while longer because we have to put a proper structure in place that allows us to work together (at) all levels, national, provincial and local government,” says Zulu.
However, she says she will not have to start from scratch as a lot of work has already been done by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), including research on small businesses and co-operatives.
“The private sector also has information and people are coming forward with their research and want to assist in helping us set up so we can support small businesses,” says Zulu.
She says her department has begun focusing on the implementation of existing entrepreneurship programmes in all nine provinces.
These include the Centres for Entrepreneurship, the Seda technology programme, the incubation support programme incentive and the implementation of programmes aimed at enhancing secondary co-operatives.
Her ministry is also working in partnership with the DTI and the Department of Economic Development to development support strategies for township-based businesses.
Once her department has a budget in place, a number of programmes and functions, which currently fall under the DTI and Department of Economic Development, would migrate to DSBD.
These are the co-operatives strategy, gender and women empowerment programmes, incubation support programmes, support for township in business, enterprise development programmes and the Centres for Entrepreneurship.
“At the moment, these work streams within the DTI have already been allocated budgets for this year and we will let them continue doing the work they do while we set up the DSBD and see how each work stream fits in and assists with our mandate,” says Zulu. In the interim, Zulu’s ministry will be making use of a R1 billion allocation from the DTI for the 2014/15 year to help her department to set up.
“We will have our own budget allocated by the new financial year,” says Zulu.
She said that her team is in place and that only one position must still be filled – that of a second advisor.
Zulu’s team includes the deputy minister, Elizabeth Thabethe who was previously a deputy minister of trade and industry.
A few members of the team are not new to the small business sector, having previously worked at the DTI.
Pumla Ncapayi, the acting director-general, is the former deputy director-general for the DTI’s trade and investment (Tisa) division; Mojalefa Mohoto, deputy director-general, is the former DTI chief director for enterprise development and Linton Mchunu, also formerly from the DTI, is her chief of staff.