SMMEs in natural product and agro-processing define what is needed for business success

POL-SABINA, the Agricultural Research Council (ARC), The Innovation Hub and eGoliBio sponsored a workshop for small, medium and micro enterprise (SMME) stakeholders in the natural product and agro-processing sectors. The workshop was hosted by the CSIR and took place on 15-17 August 2012 in Pretoria. The theme of the workshop was: Challenges facing SMMEs in the SADC region.

CSIR Biosciences Social Economic Outcomes Manager, Tshidi Moroka, said: “We hosted this workshop to have a better understanding of the challenges facing South African SMMEs in this sector; the high failure rate and the inability to create sustainable jobs.”  Workshop attendees were specifically invited to dis-cuss and come up with solutions that will advance the development and sustainability of SMMEs in this sector. Although the first two days of the workshop focused on the possible solutions to challenges facing SMMEs, the last day was re-served for tours to the ARC, the CSIR and The Innovation Hub where SMMEs could gain access to specialized assis-tance in their areas of work.

Participants of the workshop were drawn from all over the country and beyond the borders. Speakers from industry, science councils, financial institutions, government as well as government agencies were in attendance to give advice on how SMMEs can access information, funding and the necessary support needed to get their businesses operational, as well as maintain their sustainability.

The workshop provided entrepreneurs with an opportunity to share their experiences. They spoke about their encoun-ters in trying to get support from financial institutions, agencies and government departments and how they have gotten their businesses from the ground.

Mosala Mosala, an entrepreneur, said: “My experience with starting a business is quite a challenging one. I knocked on many doors but people kept shutting the door right in my face. However, all that did not deter me from attaining my goal, instead it gave me strength and courage to work harder.”

The participants strongly endorsed the need to have a one-stop shop where they will be assisted with all their needs, instead of having to hunt around for relevant information – as is their current experience. The entrepreneurs believe that if they are given the support and the right assistance, they will be able to provide solutions to the problems of unemployment, economic growth and skills development on this continent.

Adapted from CSIR eNews