By Chamu Wilson –
The Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA)’s two-day Annual Stakeholder Forum kicked off on Thursday (01 Nov) morning at President Hotel in Bloemfontein with classes meant to equip small enterprises with requisite information on how to grow their businesses.
Held under the theme, “My Free State Business Story”, the seminar opened with two classes conducted on the opening day with the Central University of Technology (CUT) in Bloemfontein as well as the University of the Free State (UFS) coming in as facilitators for the first while the Department of Economic Affairs, Small business development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (DESTEA), Free State Development Corporation (FDC), Small Enterprise Finance Agency (SEFA), ABSA, Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and the National Empowerment Fund (NEF) formed part of the panel for the afternoon class.
“We have dubbed this stakeholder forum the ‘Success story summit’ where we celebrate SEDA’s success stories. The first day is dedicated to providing information to small enterprises. We have two master classes; the first one is on competitiveness and innovation while the second one deals with issues of access to finance. The third master class, dealing with pitching to funders, will be on the second day,” explained Yolisa Mkhize, SEDA’s Senior Manager, Stakeholder Management; Public Relations and Media.
According to Mkhize, about 150 small enterprises from all the five districts of the province are taking part in this year’s Annual Stakeholder Forum and these have been broken down into three classes of 50 participants each.
Responding to questions of monitoring and evaluation of the effectiveness of the training programme, Mkhize had this to say; “We did not have any mechanisms in place to gauge the effectiveness of last year’s programme held in the Eastern Cape but for this year, we have various partners such as DESTEA, FDC and others, who will be able to judge on this aspect.”
Day 2 of the programme will see small enterprises competing in a Pitch and Perfect Competition. The Minister of Small Business Development, Lindiwe Zulu, is expected to deliver the keynote address. Free State Premier, Sefora “Sisi” Ntombela, DESTEA MEC, Limakatso Mahasa as well as Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality Executive Mayor, Sarah Olly Mlamleli are also expected to attend the seminar.
Meanwhile, the Free State province can hold its head high as, out of SEDA’s 33 success stories over the past financial year, seven of them are from the province.