SMMEs meet funders
SMALL businesses in Soweto got a chance to interact with their potential funders during an exhibition at Maponya Mall.
Lerato Monageng, 35, owner of Lerato Exhibitions in Orlando, had a vision of bringing Small Medium Micro Enterprises to the same table with funding institutions.
He started his business using a public phone six years ago, but now his company is responsible for putting together the Small Business and Finance Expo that started yesterday and ends tomorrow.
The purpose of the expo is to educate the business community in Soweto about access to finance.
More than 1500 people visited the exhibition yesterday and enjoyed a variety of exhibitors that included banks, business developers, advisers on housing, investment and savings.
Monageng struggled with funding when he was starting up and that was when he decided to create a platform where aspiring and small business owners could meet banks, government and private sector agency funders to discuss their future in the economical sector.
"I had great ideas but I couldn't move because no one was willing to fund me. At the bank they wanted 10% collateral of what I was asking for and I could not even afford that," he said.
Monageng said many great ideas could not see the light of day because of financial constraints.
Funding is the main challenge that SMMEs face because the criteria used by financial institutions are difficult to meet.
"Funding is available from banks and financing agencies but people get turned down due to the different criteria each agency has."
During the exhibition, small business owners were able to interact face-to-face with funding agencies to bridge the gap.
Another aspect he could not avoid was clients.
"Sales are hard, especially for a black business owner tapping into an industry dominated by whites," he said.
At the end of the exhibition Monageng aims to have funders consider the challenges faced by SMMEs and change the criteria so they can be accommodated according to their needs and strength.
Emmanuel Mohlamme, spokesman of the National Empowerment Funding (NEF), one of the sponsors of the exhibition, said the company had a strong willingness to fund small black-owned businesses.
This funding ranges from a minimum of R250000 to R10-million.
NEF's focus is funding business that will strengthen black women empowerment; job creation and compliance with all the relevant laws and regulations.