Access to finance ranging from R15 million per project is available to business owners at this year’s two-day KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Funding Fair.
Launched last year, the aim of the initiative is to initiate and facilitate face-to-face contact between entrepreneurs, business development bodies and funders.
The fair, which takes place at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Wed, 9 and Thurs, 10 April this year, is a partnership between Deloitte KZN, the province’s Treasury Department, and the KZN Department of Economic Development and Tourism.
According to Clive Coetzee, general manager of infrastructure management and economic services at KZN Treasury, the 2013 event led to R344 million in funding going to businesses across various sectors, ranging from technology to agro-processing and tourism.
“As a result of last year’s fair, 50 deals are currently being negotiated, and other provinces are following suit with similar initiatives.
I think we touched on a clear need – bringing the various role-players together,” says Coetzee.
He says there are many funders ready and willing to invest, but that the problem is finding entrepreneurs with viable proposals.
“Funders need some degree of certainty that deals can be made to make sure that their efforts are worthwhile, not just ideas and concepts, but something that has the potential to show return on their investments,” he says.
Coetzee says another problem is that many good business ideas fall through the cracks because of the lack of knowledge and skills needed to approach funders.
To ensure that the process is beneficial to both parties, entrepreneurs are asked to register online prior to the fair. A panel of industry specialists then sifts through the various proposals, identifying the most viable ones.
Leon Bezuidenhout, corporate finance advisory senior manager at Deloitte, says entrepreneurs are guided by experts to ensure that their proposals are ready to be pitched to the funders.
In 2013, 150 proposals were registered, and between 50 and 60 shortlisted.
He says that day one takes on a Dragon’s Den format; each entrepreneur has a 15-minute face-to-face meeting with a funder.
“If the funder is interested, they will have one-on-one sessions with the entrepreneur the following day,” Bezuidenhout says.
The fair also has an educational element, says Bezuidenhout. “We have workshops and discussions around various topics – from compiling a good business plan and financial model, to what banks look for when assessing a project.”
These sessions are open to anyone, not just the project promoters.
This year, business owners who have been successful in obtaining funding will also share their experiences with newcomers.
Bezuidenhout says for the fair in April, there is a minimum funding requirement of R15 million, and the project should be based in KZN.
Secondary fairs, with lower minimum funding requirements and for infrastructure projects, will also be held in KZN during 2014.
Lex Campbell and his business partner Dick Muir, former Springbok rugby player and coach, participated in last year’s fair.
“This is a good way to connect with banks and other funding bodies. The funds are available, but you need the know-how to approach them with your proposal.
“However, I would like to see more government departments come to the table, for instance, Agriculture, Environmental Affairs and Rural Development.”
- Visit www.kznfundingfair.co.za for more information.