Knysna businesses get municipal boost

Small, medium and micro enterprises incubator project helps entrepreneurs

At the SMME Incubator function (from left): Jualette de Klerk (Nedbank), Ian Corbett (Knysna Business Chamber President), Georlene Wolmarans (Mayor), Ilse van Schalkwyk (Municipal Manager), Allan River (Municipal Projects Officer) and Paul Hofmann (SEDA, George)
SMME Incubator Roleplayers  Feb2013.jpg

Twenty-four entrepreneurs from the greater Knysna area received a boost to their fledgling businesses following training and a donation of equipment worth R250 000, which formed part of a small, medium and micro enterprises (SMME) incubator project initiated by the Knysna Municipality and supported by Nedbank.

Designed by the municipality’s Economic Development Unit to develop entrepreneurs, the incubator project is in its third cycle and has assisted 51 SMMEs over the past three years.

Municipal manager Lauren Waring said the municipality initiated the SMME incubator programme in the 2010/2011 financial year to address the specific needs of local entrepreneurs, and to assist in their development and survival. “Research has shown that successful completion of a SMME incubator programme dramatically increased the long-term survival rates of SMMEs compared to those who did not. The reasons for better survival rates included established support networks and resources in the crucial start-up phase of a business.

“The municipality’s incubator programme not only supplies continued support and guidance, but also assists in the facilitation of access to seed funding through its relationship with Nedbank. We are immensely grateful toward Nedbank for their willingness to provide continued financial assistance to our entrepreneurs.

"In addition to getting 51 SMMEs up and running since 2010, the businesses themselves have been enabled to employ 200 others, which in turn feed at least 800 individuals in the greater Knysna area.

"Projects such as these are excellent examples of how local government and business can work together to the benefit of the community and the town. The municipality looks forward to numerous such relationships and to see the results thereof benefit our citizens,” said Waring.

The SMME incubator project each year invites local entrepreneurs to apply to participate in the programme. Qualifying applicants are interviewed and carefully selected based on their business model and strategy and its potential to succeed.

As part of extensive business skills training, participants develop business plans in which equipment specific to the needs of their business are identified. Seed equipment, funded this year by a grant contribution of R25 000 by Nedbank to the Knysna Municipality SMME Incubator Programme, is being installed in the successful applicants’ places of business. The municipality’s economic development department continues to provide support, guidance and access to a client network to ensure long-term sustainability and growth.



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