Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are often seen as one of the most important drivers of economic development and growth both in the Free State and South Africa as a whole. Researchers have even estimated that SME’s in South Africa not only make up 91% of formalized businesses but additionally provide employment to approximately 60% of the country’s labour force.
With that in mind the Free State SME Development Initiative conceptualized the Free State enterPRIZE Job Creation Challenge in order to assist provincial government in meeting its priorities towards wealth creation and SME development. This initiative is funded by the Flanders International Coorporation Agency (FICA) and executed by the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Free State Department for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (DETEA) as well as the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda).
Last year alone the Free State enterPRIZE Job Creation Challenge attracted in excess of 540 entrants from aspirant entrepreneurs across the Free State province. One such winner is 26 year old Bloemfontein resident Ayanda Makhanya of Genesis Africa Investment (Pty) Ltd whose business focuses on connecting tradesmen with businesses that requires their skill set or services. The business idea came from her and her colleagues’ realization that many informal artisans skilled in plumbing, tiling, painting, electricity, carpentry, and general building are underpaid due to lack of exposure, lack of qualifications and lack of funding.
This year’s enterPRIZE Job Creation Challenge is more inclusive and thus provides the opportunity for even more existing and emerging entrepreneurs to win prizes, grow their businesses and create jobs. The original 14 categories have been extended to 25 categories which include:
- Arts and Culture,
- Health Care,
- Information and Communications Technology,
- Social Economy/Entrepreneurship,
- Tourism and
- Waste Recycling
A total of R7, 5 million worth of cash prizes are up for grabs this year with additional technologic, technical support and equipment also being offered by sponsors. Furthermore, business management coaching and mentorship will be on offer. This in particular will serve in aiding entrepreneurs who have difficulties securing funding for their businesses as well as those who are unfamiliar with sound business practices.
The formal launch of the Free State enterPRIZE Job Creation Challenge will take place on 18 March after which further information will be available on the website www.enterprizejobchallenge.co.za