Saving the little guy

Simpiwe Piliso

Simpiwe Piliso

The country's largest listed property company has launched a new project - to save hundreds of small businesses.

Banking groups estimate that about 45percent of all start-ups close up shop after a mere two years in business.

But Growthpoint Properties last week launched a business hub, The Property Point, in the Johannesburg city centre to train and advise selected entrepreneurs.

Chief executive Norbert Sasse said: "The Property Point is all about training and supporting entrepreneurs who will develop their businesses into fully-fledged companies able to compete effectively in an open marketplace."

Over the past decade, government policies and the resultant BEE obligations on large corporations have seen the emergence of a new breed of entrepreneurs - following in the footsteps of the Ruperts, Ackermans, Motsepes and Sexwales.

Research commissioned by Old Mutual found that small and family-owned businesses contribute about 60percent to the country's gross domestic product and employ about 75percent of the workforce.

However, scores of businesses fold before celebrating their first year of operation.

Sasse said the reason behind the failure of thousands of entrepreneurs was mostly insufficient training, a lack of business knowledge and little support.

"The Business Place will sponsor selected micro and small businesses through skills training and personal development. It will also support them by ensuring tendering opportunities within Growthpoint and its service providers," said Sasse.

Growthpoint, which has a market capitalisation of more than R15,5billion and assets worth over R24billion, boasts a portfolio of more than 400 retail, office and industrial properties.

Among the entrepreneurs selected for Growthpoint's "multi-faceted enterprise development programme" is SABC3's former continuity presenter-turned-businesswoman Mpho Sono, who owns a cleaning service.

She started TMT Cleaning Services, which employs more than 30 permanent employees, eight years ago and her list of clients range from Eskom to a string of corporate and legal firms.

Sono said she decided to get involved in the programme to strengthen her business.

Another entrepreneur on the programme is Sam Dludla, owner of Njilingweni Cleaning, who already has 85 employees on his payroll.