Durban – The KwaZulu-Natal Treasury has taken its financial literacy education initiatives to the fast growing business hubs in the Richards Bay and Empangeni areas, in northern KZN.
Small, medium, micro enterprises (SMMEs) play a vital role in South Africa’s economy, despite experiencing a series of challenges. Therefore, MEC for Finance, Ina Cronje, reached out to more than 200 SMMEs by introducing them to the KZN Financial Literary Association.
The Association will supply information and provide support services to ensure growth and improvement of new and existing businesses in the province.
The SMME focus group is one of five groups that operate under the umbrella of the KZN Financial Literacy Association.
The event took place at the Mfolozi FET College and was also attended by the local business leadership of the Zululand Business Chamber, the president of the KZN Youth Business Chamber and Isolezwe, who has now also joined the Association.
Leader of the SMME sub-committee, Ntokozo Zikalala, said the one of the problems affecting the economy is that new businesses start up all the time but close down quite quickly.
“A major barrier to growth of sustainable SMMEs is generally identified as a lack of access to start up capital, financial illiteracy, poor planning and lack of financial management skills. We are currently assessing all existing programmes and identifying gaps and needs, which will enable this focus group to present a three-year plan of how we envisage to roll out financial literacy education for the SMMEs in the province,” said Zikalala.
Speaking on behalf of the sponsor, Ithala, acting executive manager, Siphiwe Madondo, said financial illiteracy is one of the reasons for poor savings records in the country.
“Some businesses display remarkable financial illiteracy in their planning and the general use of money… We want to participate in the Association’s activities to help take the message of financial literacy everywhere in the province so that the businesses, most of them started by previously disadvantaged people, do not crumble,” said Madondo.
Meanwhile, Cronje urged the youth present to recognise business opportunities and consider entrepreneurship as an option.
She warned that having knowledge about finances and business acumen were vital factors for success.
“It requires hard work. Let’s forget about getting rich quick without rolling up our sleeves. It also requires being financially literate. Starting a business is not driving flashy cars. You have to understand the basics of what you do.
“It is also important not to mix your personal and business accounts, and so is understanding your target market. Is your market interested in what you offer? Have you priced it correctly? Clearly you have some homework to do before starting a business,” said Cronje.
The initiative was met with much praise. Sikhulile Cooperative chair Masinama Lushaba commended the MEC for her role in the growth of entrepreneurs in the province.
Lushaba was one of the first cooperatives, appointed by the KZN Department of Education in 2006, to participate in the school nutrition programme.
The cooperative has already paid back their loan and are now ready to expand. Lushaba said the financial literacy programme will be used to guide them with their expansion goals.
For more information, go to: http://www.kzntreasury.gov.za/MECOffice/KZNFinLiteracyAssociation.aspx. – Kemantha Govender, BuaNews