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“…increasing the basic skills of our people will continue to be critical for our future prosperity.” – Dr Rob Davies, Minister of Trade & Industry.

The Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda), in partnership with the United Nation’s Empretec Programme, has assisted two hundred and twenty (220) South African small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to sharpen their entrepreneurial competencies for running successful global businesses.

The Empretec Programme was established by the United Nations Conference on Trade & Development’s (UNCTAD) Division of Investment and Enterprise to promote the creation of sustainable SMEs and support entrepreneurs around the world to build innovative and internationally competitive SMEs.

Seda CEO, Hlonela Lupuwana, says Seda’s involvement in the Empretec programme forms part of an elevation of strategic focus that will see the organisation roll out programmes targeted at the upper end of the SME sector. “The aim is to derive impact through job creation, SME export readiness, and increased participation in the economy by collectively owned enterprises,” says Lupuwana.

Seda is already planning a second intake of SMEs to be taken through the programme. Entrepreneurs interested in participating, regardless of the sector in which they operate, can apply in their nearest Seda branch before 30 September 2012 and will have to undergo a stringent selection process.

The training provided to these SMEs focuses on developing core personal and entrepreneurial competencies in participants in the areas of goal setting, risk taking, opportunity seeking, persuasion and influence, financial planning, and presentation skills, to name a few. John Francis, the Head of Seda’s Learning Academy says the programme encourages entrepreneurs to focus on their roles as entrepreneurs and challenges them critically to examine their personal strengths and weaknesses.

“Ultimately, the programme helps entrepreneurs become more familiar with the behavioural competencies of successful entrepreneurs, strengthen and enhance those behaviours in themselves, and finally apply the behaviours in their own businesses,” explains Francis. The participants also become legible to be nominated for international awards offered by UNCTAD, such as Women Entrepreneur of the Year, with nominees receiving additional support such as export opportunities.

The programme has been rolled out in all but one province during the past six months. SMEs that have participated in the programme will be monitored through Seda’s network of forty two (42) branches to provide them with the necessary ongoing business support and development services to help them grow further.

South Africa has become the 33rd country in the world to implement the Empretec programme, affording South African SMEs an opportunity to become part of a global network of business interaction and linkages which will help them upscale their business activities, improve their competitiveness and skills, and acquire new investments.

ISSUED BY: Seda - Small Enterprise Development Agency
MEDIA ENQUIRIES TO: Lindokuhle Nkomonde – Manager: Corporate Communications and Media Relations
TEL: 012 441 1210
Date: Wednesday, 12 July 2012