Black industrialist programme ready to roll

Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies.

Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies says the programme to boost the number of black industrialists in the country is ready to roll.

While Cabinet gave the policy the go-ahead earlier this year, Davies says everything is now in place for it to start. The black industrialist programme aims to provide financial and other support to new entrants or existing players in a bid to open up a sector of the economy that’s remained largely in white hands. The programme is aimed at creating at least 100 black industrialists in the next three years.

Davies says, “This programme will now start to operate, we will start to receive the applications.”

He says the criteria will be tight to cut out broad-based empowerment fronting and rent-seekers wanting to make a quick buck.

The minister says industrialising is the only future for an economy battered by its reliance on exporting raw minerals and the global slump in commodity prices but that this has to be inclusive.

Davis reiterated that the definition of black industrialist would be very tight.

“We want to make sure that we are targeting the right kind of people so the definition of black industrialist is quite tight,” he said last Thursday in Parliament.

The policy describes a black industrialist as a juristic person that includes co-operatives, incorporated in terms of the Companies Act (2008), owned by Black South Africans as defined by the B-BBEE Act who creates and owns value-adding industrial capacity and provides long-term strategic and operational leadership to a business.

He said to benefit, those interested had to be real entrepreneurs in the industrial economy.

“We want to be very very clear that this is not an opportunity for someone who is peripherally connected to manufacturing.”

Davis said the programme would provided dedicated financial support and all kinds of other support as it unfolded.

“We are asking all parts of government . . .  to dedicate a particular portion of their activities for the black industrialists programme.” 

A dedicated forum of officials will be created that would be responsible for funding decisions, he said.

“It won’t be politicians, it will be officials who take funding decisions from the participating DFI’s.”

The BIP programme, which is a key component of the dti’s Industrial Policy Action Plan, was approved by Cabinet on November 4 this year.

The BIP programme will form stakeholder relationships with multi-corporations, commercial banks, development finance institutions and state-owned enterprises – all with a common goal of assisting black industrialists towards accessing capital markets and growing in the sectors that they operate in.