Western Cape to hold Funding Fair for startups seeking $875k or more

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The Western Cape government has partnered advisory firm Deloitte to open applications for the Western Cape Funding Fair 2015, which will provide a platform for businesses requiring a minimum of ZAR10 million (US$875,000) in funding to connect with investors.

The inaugural event will take place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) on March 18 next year, with Deloitte and the Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism (DEDAT) calling for applications via the website until January 31.

This partnership, the provincial government said, was in response to the “pressing need to accelerate economic growth and job creation”, with the event aiming to kickstart business initiatives and provide impetus for job creation in both urban and rural areas by facilitating face-to-face contact between funders and entrepreneurs.

Alan Winde, Western Cape minister of economic opportunities, said he is confident the Western Cape Funding Fair 2015 will go a long way in assisting budding entrepreneurs.

“We know that project funding is a stumbling block for many entrepreneurs,” he said. “Through this Funding Fair, which is a joint initiative between government and business, we are aiming to address this better, together.”

The event also aims to educate and empower project promoters and entrepreneurs on the holistic approach and processes to follow in turning ideas into bankable business plans, which have a higher probability of attracting the right type of funding and investment.

“Put simply, the rationale is to get as many project promoters in front of as many possible funders and investors in a focused one-day session,” said Marius Alberts, Deloitte Western Cape regional leader.

Entrepreneurship is increasingly being viewed by both government and the private sector as the primary means of driving economic and social development. The Western Cape government recently announced 30,000 entrepreneurs had accessed its small business support services in the past year.

South Africa’s National Development Plan sees small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as being key in tackling the country’s high unemployment rate, envisaging that around 90 percent of jobs will be created in such companies by 2030.

“We encourage businesses from all over the province and across a broad range of industries to enter,” said Alberts. “Targeted business sectors include, but are not limited to, ICT, clothing, the green economy, agro-processing, oil and gas, tourism, aquaculture, metals and engineering, as well as business process outsourcing.”

The fair will comprise of three elements: project pitches, entrepreneur-focused presentations and an exhibition.

The top 50 qualifying entrepreneurs and project promoters will be given the opportunity to pitch their businesses and funding requests to a panel representing major funding bodies, in sessions closed to the public.

Entrepreneur-focused presentations will be held throughout the day, while various funding institutions will also exhibit at the fair to promote their business products and network with other attendees.

After the event funders will have the opportunity to hold one-on-one follow-up meetings with projects that interest them at Deloitte in Cape Town.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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