Support for Highflying Entrepreneurs from Specialised SEDA Programme

Support for Highflying Entrepreneurs from Specialised SEDA Programme


Be a Gazelle

The Government encourages Small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) with high growth potential to apply for the new National Gazelles programme.

The programme, launched today and will be part of the offering by the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA), aims to identify and ramp up small businesses which have already shown that they have the potential to hold their own and compete effectively in their sectors. Seda reports to the DSBD.

Related: Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda)

“Our approach ensures that we provide support at the various stages of the growth cycle of the small business. The National Gazelles intervention is post start-up, and ensures that growth businesses get support when they most need it,” says Minister of Small Business Development, Lindiwe Zulu.

“This is our flagship programme and will impact on all provinces, and include the participation of Provincial governments and national agencies; business associations and academic institutions as we ensure all stakeholders support the National Gazelles”.

She stressed that support for other entities will continue as usual. “SMEs are vital in achieving the growth and employment creation of our economy,” she ended.

Become tomorrow’s industrialists

Seda Chairman Dr Ivor Zwane says: “The Gazelles initiative offers a unique and integrated business growth acceleration program. It is designed for business owners who have successfully navigated the start-up phase, and who are now positioned for growth. We must help high growth small businesses become tomorrow’s industrialists and medium-sized companies and thus contribute with the curbing of unemployment and poverty in our communities.”

The President’s Gazelles

The programme is in line with the latest in international best practice in SME development. Every year, 200 SMEs will be selected through an assessment process in all provinces. The assessment will be done by Ernst and Young and KPMG through an open, rigorous and credible on-line application process.

From the 200, who will be known as the National Gazelles, will be selected the top 40, who will then be known as the President’s Gazelles. Sizwe Ntsaluba Gobodo are the auditors for the programme.

The participation of the three auditing firms ensures credence and a process that is fair and above board. The process will be followed each year. At the heart of the programme is a Gazelles High Care Platform (GHCP), consisting of specialist business development services providers, will then provide services to these entities.

By identifying and supporting high-growth SMEs, while at the same time supporting mostly black-owned value-adding and manufacture-focused enterprises, the GHCP enhances their processes, infrastructure and managerial skills, access to markets, and general productive capacity.

It specifically searches for and supports resilient black owned businesses that face market access challenges due in part to the dominance of entrenched established businesses.

High potential businesses that can compete

The programme was designed by Dr Thami Mazwai. He is Resident Executive at Wits Business School, and adjunct Professor at the universities of Fort Hare and Western Cape.

“The programme deals with the reality on the ground to achieve the future,” says Dr Mazwai. According to the 2014 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor South Africa report, total entrepreneurial activity (TEA) in businesses of less than 42 months was at 9.1% but for businesses of over 42 months it was at 2.9%.

Related: Government Funding and Grants for Small Businesses

TEA measures the participation of adults in small businesses. This suggests that South Africa has a high fatality rates and low graduation rates.

It is these low graduation rates that prompted Dr Mazwai to investigate what other countries were doing. This involved an extensive research that started in 2010 and include him presenting a paper in an international small business conference.

Extensive consultations and discussions followed with Seda and the Department of Trade and Industry, then the custodian of small business support. The dti also instituted peer review sessions which included experts from the public and private sectors, and academia.

“Being a Gazelle means that your business will be seen as a professional, growing and high-potential business – one which operates to a high standard and can compete effectively in the market,” adds Dr Zwane.

“This prestige will also assist it in securing new business. Gazelles will receive specialist advice, business opportunities and be encouraged to work together to grow.

SME’s with a high growth potential can apply online at:

For more information, or to apply for the National Gazelles programme, visit:

Interested SMEs can also follow programme updates on Facebook and LinkedIn:

To apply for the programme, SMEs need to meet the following criteria:

  • Owned and operated by South Africans
  • Trading for more than two years
  • Turnover of between R1m and R30m
  • Operating in one of the following industry sectors (selected in line with the National Development Plan and other government development plans):

* Agriculture and Agri-processing; * Construction; * Energy and the Green Economy; * Health and Bio-Sciences; * Information and Communication Technologies; * Manufacturing; * Media, Marketing and Creative; * Mining, Metals and Engineering; * Tourism; and * Transport and Logistics.

Businesses in other sectors may enter and will be accepted on a case-by-case basis, subject to their score.

Franchises or branches of major corporations do not qualify.

The process commences with a rigorous business analysis and development roadmap, which sets the scene for an integrated delivery of business development support, planned, coordinated and monitored by the Gazelles project team.

The emphasis of the programme is on ensuring that each Gazelle business has an effective growth strategy, combined with access to opportunities, markets and networks, supported by technical and operational advice to help “make it happen”.

As stated Audit firms EY, KPMG and Sizwe Ntsaluba Gobodo are tasked with ensuring the process is fair.

The 5 pillars of the programme include:

  • A strict assessment process to ensure those with growth prospects are selected
  • Inclusivity as the programme involves the private sector, government, academia and overseas development agencies
  • High powered support platform consisting of specialist advisors
  • Relevant incentives and a 24 hour helpline
  • World class interventions based on local realities.
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