In a concerted effort to meet with government’s call to create more jobs and assist in poverty alleviation, Absa Group has launched Enterprise Development, a unit focused and dedicated to assist the growth and development of emerging enterprises.
The Unit which is a sub-section of Absa’s Business Markets division, aims to take on government’s challenge of job creation through entrepreneurship, says Marcel de Klerk, head of Business Markets.
“The challenge of creating five million jobs by 2020 as a country is absolutely imperative and still remains a priority. As Absa, we are mindful that in order to achieve this, government has to work in partnership with the private sector,” he says.
Primary job creators
De Klerk notes that entrepreneurship and small business have globally been proven to be the primary creators of jobs in any economy, in both the developed and the developing countries. “However unemployment remains a major problem for South Africa with current figures estimated at 40%. This is especially severe in the Youth category where unemployment figures are as high as 50%.”
De Klerk emphasises that while Absa has been supporting small and medium sized enterprises for many years through various products and services, it had become imperative to Go Beyond Banking.
“This means finding other innovative ways of assisting with nurturing small businesses from their start up phase right through their growth, development and expansion phases with the aim of ensuring that these enterprises are sustainable,” says De Klerk.
Access to markets
“While funding remains a perennial obstacle to the survival of SMEs, access to markets is a stated primary obstacle that stands in the way of sustainable SME success. Absa has therefore developed innovative solutions such as our Procurement Portal, Procurement funding, and a USAID backed guarantee scheme that supports funding, as well as Enterprise Development Centres, to grow the SME sector.
“Absa, therefore, does more than help small business owners to manage their own businesses. The bank also assists SMEs to identify potential opportunities for their businesses and also puts them in touch with other stakeholders such as corporates and parastatals that will enable them to excel and realise their full potential,” he concludes.