BY KABELO SEITSHIRO
The Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry – Bogolo Kenewendo, an overseer of the country’s investment and citizen economic empowerment plans this week launched the Project Facilitation Fund or the PFF.
The PFF is jointly undertaken by the Local Enterprise Authority (LEA) and the Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) with an intention to de-risk projects.
Kenewendo said the fund will reduce the regulatory burden and transaction costs of projects to ensure that their costs structure remains manageable.
At the same time, the youthful Minister said that PFF will also engender a more agile ‘go to the market’ strategy on projects by increasing their absorptive capacity for regulatory requirements.
“One of the core initiatives under the SMME Development Apex is to develop and provide Project Funding for high impact projects in the SMME space on a grant or loan basis,” she said.
She said the fund will contribute to government’s commitment to implement progressive ‘Doing Business Reforms” by insulating the SMME sector from impediments of the legal and regulatory environment.
Kenewendo said the PFF will cover enterprises from start-ups and or green fields as well as expansions and mergers and acquisitions.
For his part LEA chief executive officer Dr. Racious Moatshe stated that all applications from the SMMEs will be received by the LEA officers at the branch offices country-wide, adding that LEA Team will then assess the application and among others check the type of assistance required.
“At this point the LEA Team will thoroughly engage the applicant to determine the project viability. When LEA completes the assessment and ascertains the project potential, the proposal will be recommended to CEDA for consideration,” said Moatshe.
He said CEDA will also assess the project proposal and recommendation from LEA and stated that when CEDA ascertains the potential, the applicant will pay their 50 percent contribution and that CEDA will directly pay the service provider the other 50 percent grant.
Moatshe said once the business plan is approved by CEDA or other funding institutions in the market, LEA will continue to handhold the SMME to start, produce and market the product or service.
CEO Thabo Thamane said both CEDA and LEA are mandated to promote entrepreneurship and develop SMMEs; CEDA through the provision of funding and LEA through the provision of responsive business development services.
He added that in implementing the respective mandates, they have become increasingly aware of both statutory and regulatory requirements that more often than not impede or delay business start-ups or hinder both the growth and expansion of existing businesses due to the quantum of the required funding to carry out such activities.
“Project Facilitation is defined as the activities required to progress projects through their development stages up to bankability,” said Thamane.