According to Nazeem Martin, Managing Director of Business Partners Limited, the campaign is part of the company’s brand repositioning aimed at championing entrepreneurship as an answer to South Africa’s economic growth and job creation challenges.
“We are passionate about funding, supporting and mentoring entrepreneurs, or as we like to call them, ‘square pegs in round holes’. We call them square pegs because they are the exceptional few who see the world not for what it is, but for what it could be. Starting a business is a brave move, and those individuals that almost always work against the grain and challenge conformity to create wealth for both themselves and the country need to be supported. The campaign therefore reinforces and strengthens our commitment to improving the level of entrepreneurship in the country,” says Martin.
He says that the Business Partners Manufacturing Fund is a tailored SME Risk Capital Fund, directed at stimulating and supporting entrepreneurial involvement within a sector that has the potential to accelerate the country’s development. “Manufacturing is a wealth-producing sector and South Africa’s diversified manufacturing industry needs to be supported in order to create long-term economic growth. Recent reports by Statistics South Africa revealed that the sector’s contribution towards the country’s GDP dropped from 19% in 2000 to the current 15.2% recorded in 2013.
“The manufacturing sector in a developing country is not only vital for economic prosperity and job creation, but is also an economic growth facilitator of other sectors, such as the service industry.”
He points to Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene’s recent address, in which he said that all cases of rapid and sustained economic growth in modern economic development have been associated with manufacturing production growth.
“The current economic climate is radically different to the vibrant economic situation prior to 2008, and is not as conducive for businesses that operate within the manufacturing sector. This fund therefore aims to assist entrepreneurs in utilising world class production systems and processes to capitalise on the various opportunities available, such as new niche markets like alternative power supplies,” says Martin.
The Business Partners Manufacturing Fund will offer finance to manufacturers in the following areas: agri-processing, textiles and clothing production; Information and Communications Technology (ICT), electronics, automotive and chemical, green industries, as well as new innovation and technologies.
Martin says that the fund has initially allocated R300 million for investments. “The fund will provide investment that will result in import replacement, such as through the introduction of new products and processes currently not available or performed in South Africa, or an export promotion, such as access to new markets. Other areas which will be considered include a sector that is experiencing cyclical distress, an investment that will drive job creation in downstream industries or provide benefits for other entrepreneurs in the value chain,” says Martin.
“With the launch of our new entrepreneurship campaign, we aim to not only achieve a greater developmental impact in the local SME sector, but also to ensure profits for our local entrepreneurs, thereby ensuring sustainable growth for the South African economy,” concludes Martin.