Entrepreneurship in the Rural Areas: SMMEs and funding

Entrepreneurship in the Rural Areas: SMMEs and funding

“I have this dream and I want to see it come true. And I will not give up. To achieve a goal, you have got to be a gambler, you have got to be certain you can do it.” ~ Chumak, Russian entrepreneur.

A true entrepreneur is a rare animal, dedicated to their ideas, perhaps a little obsessive in their determination, often ready to start before everything has been fully explored and analysed. In a rural area where people may well face further challenges of poverty and a lack of skills, entrepreneurship, as a solution, may be a difficult vehicle to drive. But, in a truly entrepreneurial frame of mind, we can say that nothing is impossible.

The enrichment of entrepreneurship

The natural entrepreneurs are good people to have around because they are invariably able to motivate others. They are not adverse to risk and are undeterred by uncertainty; they are often very persuasive; they are certainly creative; they understand the importance of strategy; they like change and implementing new ideas; they are decisive and single-minded in their approach.

Without a doubt, rural entrepreneurs stand to profoundly enrich the communities in which they live. They understand the needs of their communities, and they see the gaps. Rural entrepreneurship presents opportunities not only in arts and handicrafts, but also in agriculture, mining and manufacturing, all of which offer an array of complementary needs in services, transportation, communication and technology.

Therefore, an analysis of people is pertinent, backed by the development of programmes to assist ventures into business. Reasons are clear:

  • Rural entrepreneurship will provide job opportunities.
  • It will also check the migration of people from rural to urban areas in search of jobs.
  • Rural entrepreneurship can help to balance out the disparity between rural and city earnings.
  • It will also help to ensure that greater development takes place in rural areas, again providing more jobs and increasing business initiation in these areas.
  • In turn, new business encourages other businesses and services to activate. And interdependency is an effective driver of business growth.

Finding entrepreneurs

But how do you find these somewhat elusive people and bring them to the fore?

  • Offer events that may entice and encourage people. Networking events are good for this, monthly meetings with good speakers are also often effective and inspiring, as are small expos. Competitions are valuable tools to flush out the best in the community, and start-up business debates can motivate ideas and offer ways in which the community can benefit.
  • Highlight the resources that are available not only in the form of programmes, but readily available right there in the town. Add in a dash of expert advice and you may well be making someone’s dream reachable.
  • In addition, established businesses can certainly benefit from fresh ideas and direction. There is no special requirement to enable people to work with accelerators, incubators and venture capitalists – the options are open to everyone.
  • Do not forget the power of social media. Keep the conversation rolling, make advice accessible and questions welcome.
  • Formulating strategies and action is vital. Keep a record of the most pertinent problems so that an entrepreneurial infrastructure can be developed. Once a platform is provided, vision created, an array of connected entrepreneurial services hitherto unthought of, may be initiated.

SMMEs and funding

“The SMME sector has a number of blockages, but one of the most common that I pick up, wherever you are, is finding access to funding.” ~ Alan Winde, former Western Cape MEC for Economic Opportunities.

For all small, medium and micro enterprises, funding remains a challenge. This problem is emphasised in the rural areas: obstacles to credit, poor profitability, lack of access to markets, lack of mentorship, shortage of skills, and poor infrastructure especially with regard to commercial, accounting and legal services, labour law regulations, government bureaucracy and crime. These are just some of the hindrances facing entrepreneurs who are looking to put their dreams into action in the rural areas.

The Western Cape Government, acutely aware of these issues, has established numerous incentive schemes to provide the necessary support to businesses just starting out. They see small businesses as the engine of the Western Cape’s economy and vital to the continued growth of the country as a whole.

  • The creation of their SMME support platform, a mobile-friendly site that allows small businesses to see and connect with support services ranging from mentors to funding institutions.
  • The platform JUMP encompasses a range of features and content to cater for the various business needs of small businesses from start-ups to micro, small and medium enterprises. It includes a business self-assessment to identify which aspects of the business need attention, along with a range of downloadable tools and access to business content from a range of partners.
  • https://www.westerncape.gov.za/site-page/jump-digital-business-support-platform
  • In addition, the Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism (DEDAT), in partnership with Deloitte, hosts an annual funding fair for SMMEs, calling for entrepreneurs with the next bright idea, and funders who are looking to invest in sustainable growth wherever they can be convinced of viable opportunity.
  • The Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA) is the Department of Trade and Industry’s agency for supporting small businesses in South Africa. It contains information on starting and running your own business, including finance, management, tendering, BEE and more.
  • The role of small businesses remains crucial in driving the Province’s economy as a whole, but also in uplifting areas beyond the cities. Small business results from the successful connection between the vision of the entrepreneur and the support of funders who value and share that vision – and who are willing to invest and engage on this innovative journey to a more prosperous future for all.

Managing projects, seeing results

Casidra is the acronym for Cape Agency for Sustainable Integrated Development in Rural Areas. Casidra implements and manages projects specifically designed to improve the lives of people and alleviate poverty. With our mandate as Agricultural and Economic Development within a Rural and Land Reform context, we see ourselves as a catalyst for growth and sustainability, maximising outcomes by ensuring that we make a difference in people’s lives through effective project management.

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