South African risk finance firm Business Partners has partnered the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) to launch a ZAR50 million (US$4 million) technical assistance programme for small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
The aim of the programme is to improve the business, labour and environmental performance of SMEs in a bid to increase their profitability.
Business Partners and SECO will each contribute 50 per cent of the funding for the programme, which will involve SMEs approaching Business Partners for finance, mentorship and technical assistance support services.
For the first phase, the TA Programme is aiming to support over 1,500 SMEs – all of them existing or future Business Partners clients – and the technical assistance loan amount will be capped at 30 per cent of total exposure to Business Partners per business owner.
The technical assistance loan is interest-free and the repayment thereof is aligned to the business’s free cash flow improvements that are expected as a result of projected operational improvements brought on by the introduction of technical assistance in the business.
“In the 36 years of our existence, we have learned that providing SMEs with finance alone is not enough; the sustainability and prosperity of businesses increases significantly when the finance they receive is coupled with well-planned, well-executed and accurate technical assistance,” said Ben Bierman, managing director (MD) of Business Partners.
“Through the support from this Programme business owners will be supported to better manage their businesses and improve their chance of survival and ultimately their profitability and competitiveness.”