In response to the pressing need to accelerate economic growth and job creation, the provincial government of the Western Cape has joined forces with Deloitte to launch a new initiative, the Western Cape Funding Fair. The event aims to kick-start business initiatives across the province and provide impetus for job creation in both urban and rural areas by facilitating face-to-face contact between project promoters, entrepreneurs and various funding institutions.
This week Deloitte and the Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism (DEDAT) announced a call for applications via the official website www.westerncapefundingfair.co.za. The inaugural Western Cape Funding Fair will be held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on 18 March 2015 and will provide a unique platform for Western Cape-based bankable, sustainable, profit-seeking projects and businesses that require a minimum of R10m in fundingto connect with funders.
Alan Winde, Western Cape Minister of Economic Opportunities, says he is confident that the Western Cape Funding Fair 2015 will go a long way in assisting budding entrepreneurs. “We know that project funding is a stumbling block for many entrepreneurs,” he says. “Through this Funding Fair, which is a joint initiative between government and business, we are aiming to address this better, together.”
The Western Cape Funding Fair also aims to educate and empower project promoters and entrepreneurs on the holistic approach and processes to follow in turning ideas into bankable business plans. These plans have a higher probability of attracting the right type of funding and investment.
“Put simply, the rationale is to get as many project promoters in front of as many possible funders and investors in a focused one-day session,” Marius Alberts, Deloitte Western Cape regional leader, explains.
Increasingly, entrepreneurship is being viewed by both government and the private sector as the primary means to drive economic and social development. Recently the Western Cape Government announced that 30,000 entrepreneurs had accessed its small business support services in the past year. SMEs are seen as key in tackling the country’s high unemployment rate, with the National Development Plan envisaging that about 90% of jobs will be created in small and expanding companies by 2030.
“We encourage businesses from all over the province and across a broad range of industries to enter,” says Alberts. “Targeted business sectors include, but are not limited to, ICT, clothing, the green economy, agro-processing, oil and gas, tourism, aquaculture, metals and engineering, as well as business process outsourcing.”
The application process for funding closes on 31 January 2015. The Western Cape Funding Fair comprises three elements, namely project pitches, entrepreneur-focused presentations and an exhibition on 18 March 2015:
- The top 50 qualifying entrepreneurs and project promoters will be given the opportunity to pitch their business propositions and funding requests to a panel representing major funding bodies. These sessions will be closed to the public.
- Topical entrepreneur-focused presentations will be held throughout the day and the full programme details are available on the website.
- Various funding institutions will exhibit at the Fair to promote their business products and network with other attendees.
- The public may attend the topic presentations and exhibition free of charge, and are required to register via the official Western Cape Funding Fair website for access.
- After the event funders will have the opportunity to hold one-on-one follow-up meetings with projects that interest them at Deloitte in Cape Town.
- Qualifying projects will be contacted by 16 February 2015 and will be invited to attend preparation workshops in early March.
To apply, visit www.westerncapefundingfair.co.za or follow the conversation on Twitter via the hashtag #WCFundingFair.