As small businesses continue to battle to stay sustainable past the two-year mark, First National Bank (FNB) aims to ease at least some of the barriers facing the sector that was described as a “hotbed” of job creation.
FNB Business Value Adds head Sanjeev Orie on Wednesday said South Africans were “very” entrepreneurial, but that their attrition rates remained high, with some 40% of small, medium-sized and microenterprises (SMMEs) shutting their doors within two years.
Discussing South Africa’s Entrepreneurial landscape at an economic outlook briefing, he said that, in relation to FNB clients, around 30 000 Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) registrations were recorded each month, along with about 30 000 sole proprietors, while businesses run through a personal bank account reached about 10 000 a month and 5 000 informal or township businesses were recorded.
However, nearly half fizzled out and the cost of the first failure could make the entrepreneur hesitant to try again, despite the trend that most successful entrepreneurs only became successful on the third or fourth attempt, after applying all the lessons learnt in the early stages.
To ease the path for SMMEs, FNB teamed up with several strategic partners to pilot initiatives to reduce administrative and regulatory obstacles and support business efficiencies.
One such initiative was “Instant BEE” – an integrated solution developed by FNB and verification agency Empowerdex to help businesses plan, adjust and grow in line with black economic empowerment (BEE) regulations, Orie said.
The tool, which allowed businesses of all sizes to determine and improve their BEE ratings, eliminated the administrative burdens of BEE compliance and assisted companies in navigating the requirements through scorecard, scenario planning, documentation storage and verification services.
Instant BEE customers would also gain access to FNB’s Business Directory, where a business could be promoted to FNB clients for free.
Further, in partnership with the CIPC, FNB launched a revamped online platform this week to enable a more seamless company registration process and name reservation, with a redesigned customer user interface and payment integration and BEE certificate applications.
The new site also offered additional customer-facing channels, including ‘Instant Solutions’ where a business could generate financial reports and invoices, prepare monthly payroll, manage the business' cash flow through the newly added ‘Instant Payroll’, ‘Instant Invoicing’ and ‘Instant Cashflow’ services.