FIRM PLEDGES R3,8M to Small businesses

A PRIVATELY owned South African professional engineering company yesterday pledged R3,8million over two years to Shanduka Black Umbrellas, an initiative set up last year.

A PRIVATELY owned South African professional engineering company yesterday pledged R3,8million over two years to Shanduka Black Umbrellas, an initiative set up last year.

The cash injection by DRA Group will enable the initiative, which helps small black businesses get off the ground, to open a new branch in Pretoria this year. It would also facilitate the expansion of Shanduka Black Umbrellas to Durban.

Black Umbrellas was a project first conceived by social entrepreneurs Charles Maisel and Mark Frankel and proved to be highly effective in supporting SMMEs in Cape Town.

The model was adopted by the Shanduka Foundation and was also launched in Johannesburg with the intention of growing the project and replicating it in different provinces.

Since the official launch in October last year, more than 400 budding and established SMMEs have applied to become part of the Shanduka Black Umbrellas programme.

"However, there is a rigorous screening process and only those committed few with business plans and passion are invited to join," the group said.

There are currently 20 members in Johannesburg and 25 in Cape Town.

Shanduka Black Umbrellas chairperson Yvonne Themba said: "We are delighted with the response from both corporates and potential SMMEs. We plan to raise R100million and have 10 centres nationwide in the next few years. The effects are tangible.

"This is a programme that is going to make a difference."

For a monthly fee of R500 or R1000, the Shanduka Black Umbrellas programme provides member SMMEs with a working environment and the support services to enable them to thrive.

Shanduka said benefits included office space, computers, Internet, telephones, vehicles with drivers, a compulsory reliable bookkeeping service and a structured mentorship programme with a business consultant/mentor. - I-Net Bridge

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