“We did not have money, but we had an idea.”
These were the words of Cape Town business owner Luvuyo Rani, speaking at the launch of the Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism’s Enterprise Development Fund (EDF), held at his business premises in Khayelitsha.
Rani, who started the information technology business Silulo Ulutho Technologies nine years ago by selling refurbished computers from the boot of his car, says he heard about the EDF in 2010 and then applied for funding.
The business offers basic and advanced computer literacy training, internet services and sells computers.
“I needed 30 computers for my Blue Downs branch and received R100 000 in funding. The whole process took me about one and a half months,” says Rani.
The Blue Downs branch, which is open from 8 am to 8 pm, now employs about eight staff members and has some 200 walk-in customers daily.
Rani owns 18 branches in the Western Cape and eight in the Eastern Cape, and employs 115 staff in total.
Another speaker at the event was Ottery-based business owner Terry-Jo Thorne, who co-owns the family-owned business Thorne Trusted Barrier Systems with sisters Kirsty Thorne and Stacey Thorne. They are a much more recent recipient of the fund.
The business, which manufactures transparent burglar bars made from polycarbonate thermoplastic, received R46 000 in June this year and now employs six permanent and four casual staff members.
“As a result of the funding, we were able to decrease our price, increase our staff, upgrade our telecommunication systems by getting a PABX system, and improve internet speed,” says Thorne.
Thorne says the speed at which her application was processed was really helpful, since competitors were swooping in on her customers.
“You can’t tell someone to wait a month for their burglar bars until you are ready,” says Thorne.
The fund was launched by the Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, Alan Winde. The EDF was first piloted in 2010 and has provided funding in the amount of R3.5 million to small businesses to date.To apply for finance, businesses must be based in the Western Cape, be operational for at least 12 months, have a valid tax clearance certificate, and must be majority-black owned.
“Business owners also need a good business plan. There are rules – you can’t use the money to buy a car or a house. You also need to analyse: Is the money going to effect change to job creation?” says Winde.