'Govt has new take on BEE'

THE government is changing its approach to black economic empowerment so that it can benefit all people, a small business development convention heard at theweekend.

THE government is changing its approach to black economic empowerment so that it can benefit all people, a small business development convention heard at theweekend.

The Soweto SMME Funding and Enterprise Development Convention was held at Uncle Tom's Hall in Orlando West, Soweto.

More than 1500 entrepreneurs attended the convention, which was organised by the South African Black Entrepreneurs Forum (Sabef).

Sabef is an organisation whose mission is to promote and inspire entrepreneurs in black communities so that they can help to alleviate poverty and create jobs.

Government funding agencies, banks and high-profile business people interacted with entrepreneurs to address SMMEs' main challenges, that is access to funding andinformation.

BEE was one of the main topics discussed.

The Department of Trade and Industry, (DTI), which consists of Khula Enterprise, the Industrial Development Corporation and Small Enterprise Development Agency, explained its services to the masses.

Thabo Masombuka, the DTI's director of BEE partnerships, said that government was changing its approach to implementing BEE.

He highlighted three aspects through which the government would implement BEE.

"We are moving away from the narrow approach which focuses only on a change in ownership, to broad-based BEE which empowers all," Masombuka said.

"This approach is meant to benefit all previously disadvantaged people.

"It is linked to the five priorities of government," added Masombuka.

The five priorities are education, health, job creation, housing and rural development.

"We also want the private sector to make BEE sustainable, not just implementing it to get a scorecard and then to get government contracts," he said.

"Those who still continue fronting are in trouble because we are pushing legislation which will enable us to implement stricter punishment for such bad practice.

"People should change their perceptions about BEE and know that it is for them, not certain individuals."

Masombuka said the DTI was embarking on national campaigns to demystify BEE to explain how ordinary citizens could benefit from it.

He also explained how the three agencies under the DTI could help entrepreneurs with funding, vouchers and networking.

"We have created an IT portal on our website where entre-preneurs can network with others in business and share their ideas."

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