Chemicals sector education and training body the Chemical Industries Education and Training Authority (Chieta) and the University of Johannesburg Centre of Entrepreneurship have launched a small business development programme to help grow the number of small and medium-sized (SME) chemicals businesses in South Africa.
This is also expected to go some way in contributing to the growth of the overall chemicals sector.
“In South Africa, SMEs account for 54% of the country’s entrepreneurial activity, but the chemicals sector is lagging. Changing this urgently is necessary to grow the industry so it can become a more powerful economic driver.
"This requires a series of targeted interventions over the next decades, including helping small businesses grow, which is good for the economy and employment,” explains Chieta CEO Yershen Pillay.
Chieta has contributed R2.5-million to the programme, which is aimed at helping beneficiaries boost their chemicals manufacturing and product testing skills, while providing them with crucial business skills and traction coach management. By aligning itself with the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition’s Policy Action Plan, it will also work to improve SMEs’ access to markets.
“Our core objective is to provide SMEs with structured advisory, mentorship and coaching support. We also want to cement relevant partnerships within the sector to create a framework that provides beneficiaries with opportunities to unlock business success in both national and international markets and create jobs locally. The latter has become more crucial than ever," Pillay says.
The Chieta Small Business Programme also has partnerships with the Chemin Incubator and Shell Downstream South Africa. The initiative will focus on SMEs operating in the speciality and commodity chemicals spheres.
“We will start by targeting 50 beneficiaries from the greater Johannesburg area, including Soweto, Orange Farm and Modderfontein, focusing especially on black women-owned startups. The reason is that women own only 34% of all smaller businesses, 2019 research by the World Bank shows,” Pillay says.
“Women entrepreneurs face unique challenges, including lack of access to funding and prevailing misconceptions that they are less capable of running successful businesses,” he notes.