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More than 3000 local aspiring and existing entrepreneurs accessed the vital business resources they needed to start or grow their businesses at the Small Enterprise Development Agency's (Seda) second annual series of Entrepreneur's Day events, held at venues across the country during November and December.

All Department of Trade and Industry (dti) agencies, as well as a host of other organisations providing SMME services, exhibited at the events, which were hosted in eight provinces between 5 November and 10 December 2009.

Entrepreneurs were able to access valuable business insights, from practical business registration information to detailed advice on cooperatives and exports. They were also given the opportunity to network with exhibitors and other participants – a major benefit for SMMEs in these specific business phases.

Seda CEO Hlonela Lupuwana said she was very happy with the outcome of this year's events, adding that the initiative was critical for entrepreneurs as it addressed some of the biggest challenges they faced.

"The objective of Entrepreneur's Day is to provide pre start-up and start-up enterprises with information and advice to either start or improve their businesses. This is crucial as these are the groups which are most vulnerable to failure. Entrepreneur's Day is also important in that it addresses some of the key challenges small enterprises face including, amongst others, access to information," Lupuwana said.

Entrepreneurs Day is based on a successful Belgian model which, over the past five years, has shown that as many as 60% of participants start new businesses after attending the event.

Seda's research showed that, following the inaugural Entrepreneur's Day in 2008, 20% of the 7 500 participants registered as new Seda clients, 15% attended training provided by Seda and 5% were assessed using Seda's diagnostic tools.

In an effort to maximise the potential of last year's events, Lupuwana said thorough follow-up sessions would be conducted. "We aim to meet with all the participants that attended, with a view to having an indication this year of how many participants started their businesses as a result of the advice received at these events," she explained.

National attendance figures at this last year's Entrepreneurs Day were as follows; Gauteng (312); Limpopo (1063); Western Cape (500); North West (467); Mpumalanga (400); Kwazulu Natal (261); Free State (651) and Northern Cape (250).

Entrepreneur's Day forms part of government's proactive strategy to grow South Africa's SMME sector, and is an extension of Seda's mission to develop, support and promote small enterprises, encouraging their ongoing growth and sustainability.