By Nozizwe Vundla, Head of the Sanlam Foundation

Small and medium enterprises comprise about 90% of all formal business in our country, contributing 34% of our GDP, according to the International Finance Corporation (IFC). The IFC reported that South Africa’s rate of early-stage entrepreneurship is three times lower than it should be, with SME sector growth of just 14% in nine years.

Businesses are being held back by myriad factors, but primarily lack of funding and skills development. As a purpose-led group, Sanlam is committed to using our Enterprise and Supplier Development (ESD) initiatives to champion SMEs through new programmes in partnership with Black Umbrellas and Zevoli Growth Partners.

Small businesses hire up to 60% of the country’s workforce. Empowering entrepreneurs means shifting our nation’s narrative. It’s also a critical part of South Africa’s National Development Plan (NDP), which aims to amplify SMEs’ economic contribution.

Our entrepreneurs are our problem-solvers and community builders. Entrepreneurship is the biggest opportunity for South Africa to capture all the potential of our demographic dividend, our greatest untapped asset. It’s one of the best avenues to amplify socio-economic inclusion and give more people purpose, independence, and dignity. Our ESD programmes are about creating ripples of economic sustainability for generations to come.

This funding cycle, we continue our work with ASISA.

ASISA and Sanlam Group ESD Programme:

This programme aims to transform our distribution network and contribute to job creation through the development of sustainable businesses that can grow and contribute to South Africa’s economy. We do this by investing in our supply-chain aligned SMEs through three strategic projects that have created and sustained 3578 jobs since inception.

  • Project Accelerate: An 18-month intervention assisting 14 SMEs through business development support, with a focus on accessing markets, funding, and relevant skills.
  • Project Elevate: Focusing on distribution development, this project provides specialist practice management training to 24 black-owned financial planning businesses in Sanlam’s BlueStar network, with a focus on instilling practical skills and knowledge.
  • Project Migrate: Provides specialist business development support to 11 financial planning businesses through an intensive coaching-based approach with targeted mentorship, combined with workshops.

We are proud to add two new programmes to our ESD portfolio.

Sanlam has partnered with Black Umbrellas to support 30 black women entrepreneurs in their entrepreneurial journeys through three intensive programmes:

  • Masakhe: Unlocking the potential of 15 early-stage beneficiary SMEs, the objective of the Masakhe programme is to ignite their business ideas, paving the way for their full establishment as start-ups.
  • Siyakhula: Fueling the growth of 9 established SMEs, the Siyakhula programme seeks to empower them to operationalise and scale their businesses, with a focus on increasing their key financial metrics.
  • Asindize: This programme will propel two existing SMEs that are ready to accelerate their growth, to increase their revenue and create greater employment opportunities. Participating businesses must be at least 51% black-owned, with five permanent employees or more.

Introducing: Zevoli Growth Partners

Zevoli Growth Partners helps to formalise township-based stokvels, transforming them into viable businesses. There are about 800 000 stokvels in the country, collecting around R50 billion per year, with estimated membership of 11 million South Africans. They have a critical role to play in changing the nation’s savings rate.

Supporting stokvels means indirectly supporting vulnerable individuals. Their success is vital to the country’s growth. Sanlam and Zevoli will assist participating stokvels through business mentorship, financial literacy, and operational support, to position them for growth.

Sanlam recognises that supporting South Africa’s SME owners is one of the best ways of fostering greater financial inclusion and a life of confidence for all. Our entrepreneurs are key to solving the nation’s shared challenges. We owe it to them to help turn their big ideas into big business over the long term. We need to create an environment where they feel supported to succeed.

To download your copy of the 2023 Sanlam Transformation Gauge, click here

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