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Small Business Funding In South Africa

When you need funding for your small business, it can seem like a big challenge jumping through all the hoops. We show you what you need to know about small business funding.

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For many entrepreneurs, the minute they realise they need small business funding, they automatically panic and wonder, “How on earth am I going to get funding?”

The good news is that there are a number of ways you can get funding for your small business if you know where to look and do the right preparation.

How small business funding differs from big business funding 

Basically, it’s a matter of scale. A small business isn’t likely to require R100 million in finance.

A small business can get started on as little as R1 000 – and with profits put back into the business – can grow organically and rely very little on external funding.

The other difference pertains to size in another way: Big business tends to refer to corporate entities with shareholders, boards of directors etc., while small business tends to refer to privately owned and operated business.

Related: Government Funding and Grants for Small Businesses

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The dangers of running your business finances through your personal account

Say you want to start a small business crafting wooden furniture and you can buy most of the equipment on your credit card. In one way, it’s the quickest and easiest way to get going, but running your business finances through your personal accounts come with risk.

Not separating your business from you personally sets you up for legal liability. If, for example, you default on credit card payments or fall into debt, your personal assets can be seized over and above your business assets.

The other risk is that of keeping clear records and distinctions of which expenses are business and which are personal. This can lead to tax complications come tax season and you can incur fines that can close your business.

Having a separate account for your business also lends credibility to it, and in the event you require finance from a bank, your clear financial documentation will aid the bank in assessing whether to grant you a loan.

Why a clean credit record is so important to small business funders

In order to qualify for grants or loans, the lending facility needs to assess whether you’ll be able to repay the loan, and your credit record is their way of checking. Even if you’re starting a brand new business, if you have a tarnished personal credit record or are blacklisted for bad/non-payment, your ability to borrow will be negatively affected.

Every South African is entitled to a free credit report once a year. You can learn more about about your credit record through credit bureaus like TransUnion.

Related: Small Business Start-up Guide

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Various small business funding options available

If you’re not in the position to self-fund through use of personal credit and/or savings, you can investigate these following ways to get small business funding.

Small Business Funding Option 1: Angel Investment

An angel investor is typically a wealthy professional who is able to provide you with start-up capital in exchange for equity in the business or a fixed percentage interest on the loan. Angel investors can be individuals or form angel networks in order to distribute risk.

Angel investors can be hands-off, not wanting to be part of the business, while others may want to be involved in decision-making and/or act as a business mentor.

A rookie mistake made by many is to enter into verbal agreements with angel investors without terms and conditions written and signed by both parties. Without a contract in place, conflict can arise; an investor can withdraw their funding, and the business’s future can be jeopardised. Make sure whenever finance is involved, there is a written agreement in place.

Small Business Funding Option 2: Bank funding

If you choose to approach a bank for finance you need a number of things in place before you approach them.

First is a comprehensive and fully understood business plan complete with financial projections. You also need to provide a full set of financials for them to examine. Then you need to understand the kinds of loans available and which kind is best suited to your needs.

If, for example, you need to buy equipment which devalues with age and use, it’s not advisable to take a long-term loan where you’ll be paying for it long after it’s served its lifespan.

Bank Finance Options for Small Business:

  1. Overdraft – is ideally suited to managing cash flow.
  2. Business revolving credit – this is a line of credit available as and when it is needed and repayments are typically fixed monthly instalments. The original limit is usually restored after a set percentage has been repaid.
  3. Medium-term loans – are ideally suited for capital expenses and repayable for a period of two to seven years, but can be longer. Interest and repayment tend to be linked to prime, how much collateral you have, and the value of the asset you need finance for.
  4. Business mortgage / Property finance – in the event you wish to buy or renovate property for your business or convert part of a residence into office space, this is the loan to investigate.
  5. Vehicle and asset finance – Whether it’s a vehicle or specialised equipment required, talk to your bank about vehicle and asset finance to determine whether its terms are suited to your business.

Related: Start A Small Business, Become Self–Employed

Small Business Funding Option 3: Crowd Funding

Relatively new to the scene, crowd funding is an exciting way to gather finance. It works in a similar way to angel investment, except many individuals are able to pledge varying amounts to the business in exchange for equity, interest, or other more creative returns.

As an example, new products, music albums and films have been crowd funded in exchange for early releases, while restaurants have named menu items after benefactors.

Typically, however, a product or service is pitched and uptake in funding helps determine whether there is demand for it, and first releases help fine-tune it.

South African crowd funding platforms include:

The top international crowd funding platforms include:

Small Business Funding Option 4:
Funding for Previously Disadvantaged Individuals (PDIs)

Small Business Government Grants and Loans

The government is involved in small business development by providing funding to previously disadvantaged individuals. These can take the form of grants, loans and tenders.

A government loan, like a loan from a financial institution, is given to an approved business that is required to repay the loan. It usually has more lenient repayment schedules and interest rates.

A government grant, by comparison, does not require repayment by the awarded business. The South African Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has a number of initiatives designed to improve business activity for previously disadvantaged individuals, women and youth. You can read more at www.dti.gov.za > SMME development > financial assistance. Any business wanting to gain access to grants or funding needs to be BEE accredited and have a tax clearance certificate.

Enterprise Development (ED) Funding

This form of government mandated funding is devised as a means to create more jobs in South Africa through business development, and enterprise development is one of the elements of the BEE scorecard. Large corporates are required to pay towards enterprise development or use an Enterprise Development beneficiary in their business supply chain as part of their BEE scorecard.

Resource: Enterprise Development Programmes For Black Entrepreneurs

How a small business benefits from ED funding is by enrolling in a corporate’s ED empowerment programme that can include mentorship, incubation, becoming procurement ready, how to be commercially viable and sustainable, etc.

Related: 5 Small Business Loan Ideas

Small Business Funding Option 5: Bootstrapping your Small Business

If you’re not drawn to the previous examples of funding, you can bootstrap your business. Fundamentally it’s starting and growing a business without external help.

This is achieved through getting operational as quickly as possible; keeping fixed overheads as low as possible – even if you have to work in your childhood bedroom or understaff; reinvesting profits into the business; and keeping growth in check by maintaining steady growth over explosive growth.

Related: 6 Tips For Bootstrapping

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SAB Transforms Supply Chains

Supplier Development Programmes grow black-owned suppliers and create jobs.

South African Breweries (SAB)

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The South African Breweries (SAB) has invested more than R200 million into creating an inclusive supply chain that incorporates black-owned and black women-owned SMEs through its supplier development programmes, SAB Accelerator and SAB Thrive. In addition, more than 100 jobs have been created through these efforts.

SAB Accelerator and SAB Thrive aim to create a diversified and inclusive supply chain by supporting the growth of black-owned suppliers through business development support and funding. The programmes are two of four entrepreneurship development programmes run by SAB to help create 10 000 jobs in South Africa by 2022 — SAB KickStart, SAB Foundation, SAB Accelerator and SAB Thrive.

SAB’s agriculture programmes also contribute towards the aim to create jobs by growing emerging farmers.     

Related: SAB-Commissioned Research Shows SA Poised To Reap Entrepreneurship Rewards

“From rural entrepreneurs to big business, SAB has laid the foundation to support entrepreneurs and to contribute towards government’s efforts to grow the economy and reduce unemployment in the country,” says Ricardo Tadeu, Zone President, SAB and AB InBev Africa.

“We recognise that one of the major hurdles for SMEs in South Africa is the ability to gain entry into big business and form part of their supply chains. This requires a symbiotic relationship with big business working alongside smaller suppliers.”

SAB Accelerator and SAB Thrive cohesively solve the challenges of creating a healthy pipeline of suppliers that represent the demographics of the country. SAB Accelerator has piloted ten businesses that have created 29 permanent and 79 part-time jobs in a period of just six months, and is currently incubating 24 businesses as part of the official post-pilot intake. SAB Thrive has invested R100 million in seven businesses, which have created 46 new jobs. In addition, the programme has contributed R140 million in new B-BBEE preferential spend.

The SAB Accelerator is an in-house programme dedicated to developing black-owned and black women-owned suppliers. Geared towards fast-tracking participants’ growth, the programme employs ten highly experienced business coaches and ten engineers, offering both tailored business and deep technical coaching to the participants.

It has a three-phased approach consisting of:

  1. Diagnostic: Screening the business’s current situation and systematically identifying gaps and opportunities for growth.
  2. Catalyst: Proposing an intensive three-month coaching intervention addressing key business functional and technical areas of improvement or growth.
  3. Amplify: Providing additional business development to support graduates of the Catalyst Programme.

The SAB Accelerator strongly focuses on enhancing market visibility and access of its participants.

Eligibility criteria:

  • Existing black-owned or black woman-owned suppliers currently servicing SAB’s supply chain at the time of application.
  • Existing black-owned or black women-owned businesses that have potential to join the SAB supply chain based on their product or service.

The SAB Thrive fund is an enterprise and supplier development (E&SD) fund set up to transform the company’s supplier base. The fund was established in partnership with the Awethu Project, a black private equity fund manager and SME investment company. The aim is to invest in and transform SAB suppliers to represent our country’s demographics. SAB Thrive investees benefit from 100% black equity capital and business support.

Related: 6 SAB Entreprenurship Programmes That Provide Business Management And Support

The fund invests growth equity capital into SAB’s existing high-growth black-owned suppliers, furthering their profitable expansion into the SAB supply chain without diluting the black-ownership of these businesses.

Existing white-owned suppliers are provided equity capital to support the enhancement of their black ownership, while facilitating the introduction of black entrepreneurs to their business. The intention is to apprentice the individual to take over the business in the near future.

Eligibility criteria:

  • Black-owned suppliers in the SAB supply chain that want to grow their business through access to black-owned growth equity capital.
  • Existing white-owned suppliers in the SAB supply chain that want to transform their B-BBEE ownership.

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Alternative Finance – Filling The Gap

Alternative Finance is finance beyond the traditional – it is defined by the financiers’ area of specialisation – by what they specialise in, whom they serve, and how they provide their funding.

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Alternative Finance is finance beyond the traditional – it is defined by the financiers’ area of specialisation – by what they specialise in, whom they serve, and how they provide their funding. It does not replace traditional finance but rather functions as a complementary and additional form of funding.

Alternative financers are specialists – they focus on a particular need and on a specific audience. As a result their ‘how’ is customised to deal with their chosen target market and for this targets unique needs. This applies to the funder’s processes and to their level of flexibility around things such as collateral. An example of this is that a SME may have an existing R1 million overdraft (their traditional finance) secured by R 1.5 million collateral but suddenly they need R5 million for some kind of contract or bridging finance – they need it fast and don’t have that extent of collateral.

The traditional funder cannot provide what they need, their process is too long and their flexibility is too low. An alternative financier providing bridging finance and specialising in SMEs is ideally positioned to fill this gap.

Related: 5 Key Questions To Answer For Raising Funding

One of the most significant differences between a traditional funder and an alternative financier is in their process. In the case of the alternative financier, they have often chosen to deal exclusively with a particular customer base, for example SMEs. As a result, this funder has both an affinity and contextually relevant empathy in working with SMEs.

Not only do they speak the same language the funder also has an appreciation for the time and material constraints of the SME and has developed their processes to cater to this market. This applies most notably to the turnaround time of the funding need and to the assessment aspect – where flexibility around things such as collateral is vital in making the finance happen for the SME.

A traditional funder is unable to meet the deadline of a bridging finance need, submitted on an urgent basis, where the finance is needed as soon as 2-3 days from time of application. A specialised or alternative funder is able to do exactly this. A traditional funder is also unable to find creative methods in solving the SMEs lack of high-value collateral in applying for finance.

This SME has generally already used their high-value collateral for traditional credit facilities but now needs funding for growth or resolution of a temporary cash flow challenge. An alternative financier is able to look at such an application in a different way, and has most likely already established alternative ways to make this happen for the SME.

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How to Guides

6 Money Management Tips For First-Time Entrepreneurs

That R25 coffee every morning isn’t taking you to the next level any faster than brewing a pot at the office.

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How many times have you been told that saving money is a good thing? Financial specialists recommend that you save a bit of money every month, but that’s easier said than done. After all, it’s not uncommon for people to live paycheck to pay cheque.

However, if you want to start a company, you’ll need to break away from this cycle and start budgeting and saving. At times, this will be a trying task, but it must be done if you want to invest in your future as an entrepreneur.

If you want to start managing your money more effectively and set yourself up to become an entrepreneur, follow the six tips below. With these techniques in your arsenal, you’ll start so see immediate changes, and you’ll set good behaviours in motion that’ll serve you throughout your career as an entrepreneur.

1. Prioritise organisation

When you are organised, you can track every facet of your finances. Record all of your financial information in one place so you can refer to it and keep track of your progress.

When you chronicle all of your financial information, you may want to try and organise it by category. For example, when you are recording your current costs, you can categorise them as “urgent” and “future.”

Not only will this system help you stay on top of your personal finances, but it’ll prepare you for entrepreneurial success because it’s a directly transferable skill.

Related: Smart Money For Small Businesses

2. Check your credit

According to a recent MoneyTips survey, nearly 30 percent of people don’t know their credit score. If you are among this group, it’s time to request a free credit report. Once you know your number, assuming money’s tight, feel free to use a few do-it-yourself credit repair techniques to quickly improve your score.

Understanding your credit score and improving it to the best of your ability is paramount when it comes to money management. A little-known fact among aspiring entrepreneurs is that the funding a new business receives is often dependent on the founder’s credit score.

3. Save where you can

People often cringe when they think about cutting back. Fortunately, there are several painless ways to save. Look at your daily habits and see if you have any spending trends. For example, if you spend $5 every day on lattes, you might consider cutting back and only having the expensive latte every other day. Slowly, you’ll get used to this new habit, and your bank account will reap the rewards.

Related: Time Is Money: Tips To Help You Use Yours Well

4. Search for additional information

The Penny Hoarder

Have you heard of The Penny Hoarder or Dough Roller? These are just two personal finance blogs that can help you better manage your money, but there’s a whole lot more out there.

Subscribe to websites and follow podcasts that offer advice on money management. Also, keep your eyes peeled for informative outlets that speak directly about entrepreneurial finances and follow them, too.

5. Set long- and short-term goals

Have you ever noticed that people want to reach their goals in as little time as possible? If you pick up almost any given health magazine, it’ll claim that it can help you achieve extreme results in little to no time.

Unfortunately, crash diets are often ineffective, and “get rich quick” money management techniques often lack substance.

It’s hard to accept that your goals will take time to accomplish, which is why you create short- and long-term goals. In either case, aim to make goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based. Ideally, accomplishing your short-term goals will give you the positive feedback that you need to continue striving for your long-term goals.

Related: If You’re Trying To Raise Money, Doing Any Of These 9 Things May Scare Off Investors

6. Find a mentor

If you manage your personal finances and entrepreneurial finances, one thing is certain – at times, it will feel like you can’t keep up with everything. Financial planning can be difficult, and it’s not uncommon for it to feel overwhelming.

As an individual, you can seek out mentors that can help you with personal finances. As an entrepreneur, you can continue to work with these people or seek out more established financial consultants that provide you with guidance you need to run your business.

Managing your finances is a trying and rewarding experience. It will feel messy at times, but the more you practice, the more you’ll improve your personal finances and set yourself up for entrepreneurial money management success.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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