Support for small businesses in South Africa – a 2017 review

1 year ago

Small business owners are often so caught up in the running of their operations that they don’t think to apply for help for their businesses. While many sources of funding are subject to exclusionary conditions which would discount your particular enterprise, there are many sources of non-financial support out there from which you may succeed in acquiring help.

We’ll be looking at non-financial support for small businesses in this article.

Some government departments, most notably the National Youth Development Agency, that have previously maintained financial support programmes for small businesses have ended those programmes in favour of mentorships, capacity, and skills development training.

Absa Centres of Entrepreneurship

Absa operates eight centres of entrepreneurship across South Africa. Its flagship operation based in Newtown, Johannesburg, has helped over 1,500 entrepreneurs since 2013. These centres offer consultations, business facilities like computers and meeting rooms, and provide a procurement portal, hosted by the Supply Chain Network that helps connect small businesses with government and large companies.

Awethu Project

The Awethu Project is a black-owned entrepreneurship development company, based in Johannesburg. They provide business training, tools and networks to small businesses that show growth potential. Many businesses need help accessing growth capital, and the Awethu Project’s strong network capabilities have brought the means to growth to a number of budding entrepreneurs. They offer both in-person mentorship and digital mentorship. One of the key functions of the Awethu Project is helping white-owned businesses become B-BBEE compliant, by partnering them with black entrepreneurs within their network.


The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) set up FinFind to bring those with capital from private sector and government together with small business owners in order to increase access to finance for entrepreneurs. Along with promoting investment in South African small businesses, FinFind offers financial literacy training, provides business consultants to help small business owners meet their challenges, and gives accounting advice.

Global Cleantech Innovation Programme

Global Cleantech Innovation Programme (GCIP) is a project from the Global Environment Facility, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization and the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA). The aim of this programme is to support small businesses in South Africa that are working to provide green solutions. These may include energy efficiency tools, renewable energy, waste beneficiation and water efficiency. GCIP offers competitions and a business accelerator programme, which gives businesses in this sector mentoring, training, investor access, and a platform from which the small businesses can show off their solutions.

National Youth Development Agency

The National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) was founded in 2008 to help young South African entrepreneurs realise their business ambitions. The NYDA offers mentorship programmes, as well as microfinance to help kickstart youth-owned small business. The NYDA also functions as a lobbying body to government, making sure that South Africa’s youth are heard by top decision makers.

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