The key to unlocking the economic potential of this province is to create an environment that is supportive of businesses and entrepreneurs, and by doing so, contributing to the growth of the economy.
This is according to Western Cape Minister of Economic Opportunities Alan Winde, who officially opened the second Western Cape Funding Fair held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre this morning.
The Funding Fair, hosted in partnership between Deloitte and the Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism (DEDAT), aims to connect businesses that require funding of between R2m and R20m, as well as R20m plus, with suitable investors, and educate applicants on best practices to follow to turn ideas into bankable business plans.
“When we engage with entrepreneurs, the most common problem they raise is access to finance. There is also a need to improve awareness and understanding around the funding needs of small businesses. The Funding Fair starts to change the ecosystem because it provides a platform for financing for businesses and investment opportunities for funders. We know that entrepreneurs play a significant role in driving the economy; employing over 500,000 people in the Western Cape. That is why we support initiatives like these which connect entrepreneurs and investors,” said Minister of economic opportunities, Alan Winde.
This year, more than 300 quality applications were received from Western Cape-based businesses to be part of the Funding Fair, of which 20 shortlisted applicants pitched today to prospective funders, such as angel investors, venture capitalists, and banking institutions, for funding for their businesses.
“We received applications from all over the Western Cape and across all industries. Some of the applications that pitched today come from sectors in agro-processing, logistics, renewable energy and food and beverage. These businesses bring a unique proposition to the region, and promise to stimulate economic growth through job creation,” said Marius Alberts, head of Deloitte Western Cape.
Applications were shortlisted based on meeting two main criteria: Businesses had to be headquartered in the province and they had to either apply for between R2m and R20m in funding or R20m plus. Following an extensive selection process, applications were carefully selected based on their actual and projected financials, as well as their potential for growth.
Businesses that were not shortlisted were still able to attend the topical speaker programme and exhibit, along with members of the public, which ran parallel to the pitching sessions and consisted of well-known entrepreneurs sharing their successes and failures in their quest to start their own companies. Lebo Gunguluza, a Dragon from the popular television series Dragons’ Den, and Fred Robertson, executive chairman of Brimstone, were some of highlights on this year’s programme.
Last year’s Funding Fair saw at least 24 growing businesses take part in the pitching round of the Funding Fair, with eight companies going into post-pitching discussions with funders and a further three receiving expressions of interest from funders. Four businesses indicated that they were successful in sourcing funding in sectors such as IT and media, manufacturing and shipping.
Minister Winde said the Funding Fair illustrated the importance of public-private partnerships.
“As government, it is our role to create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive. Through the Funding Fair, we are also partnering with the private sector to make sure that entrepreneurs receive the funding they need to take their enterprises to the next level.”
“Today we have seen only the beginning of the potential positive spin-offs that the Funding Fair aims to achieve. The fact that we had a full house attending the speaker programme shows that businesses in the province are hungry for the right information that will help them to succeed. If each person that attended the programme today walks away feeling inspired to take action, or with one good idea on how to grow their business, then the Funding Fair has provided immeasurable value,” concluded Alberts.