The government plans to increase support to small businesses and co-operatives by introducing a new co-operatives policy that includes setting up an academy as well as an advisory board to monitor co-operatives, and introduce a new act that makes it easier for South Africans to run a co-operative.Briefing the media ahead of his budget vote in Parliament in Cape Town this week, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said his department would also be looking to revive its proposal for government to buy 10 key products and services from small business owners.
Davies said 20 000 callers had accessed the small, medium and micro enterprise (SMME) payments hotline, which was launched in September and is housed at the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda).
The hotline, which helps business owners claim late payments from government departments and public bodies had so far facilitated payments of R31 million to entrepreneurs, he said.
Deputy Trade and Industry Minister Maria Ntuli said there were over 23 000 co-operatives registered by the department, but that only about 2 000 were "functional", making training and monitoring of the sector vital.
She said the advisory council on co-operatives would include advisors drawn from those on the ground in all provinces as well as legal people.
Ntuli recently visited the provinces to determine the nature and problems of support to small enterprises and will this week table her report on her findings before Parliament's Trade and Industry Portfolio Committee.
She said all nine provinces had co-operated, even Gauteng and the Western Cape, which did not have Seda offices.
The department was also looking at institutional support for small businesses, specifically at how to boost finance and business training and wanted to interrogate whether government support was viable and whether the country had a proper support system in place.
"Let's create entrepreneurs and opportunities for the people, so they can stand up for themselves," said Ntuli.