The Western Cape Funding Fair which took place earlier this week in Cape Town received over 600 applicants for funding, a number now reduced to 40 finalists who have been pitching their ideas to potential funders.
Disrupt Africa reported last year the Western Cape government has partnered advisory firm Deloitte to open applications for the fair, offering a platform for businesses requiring a minimum of ZAR10 million (US$875,000) in funding to connect with investors.
The provincial government said the partnership was in response to the “pressing need to accelerate economic growth and job creation”.
Alan Winde, Western Cape minister of economic opportunities, said he had a vision of a different ecosystem for entrepreneurs in the province.
“And this is the platform where everything starts to change, and money starts to flow to the entrepreneurs. It is initiatives like these, and the good stories that will come out of them, that make us the place where people want to do business, and can do so easily,” he said.
Marius Alberts, regional leader for Deloitte in the Western Cape, said his company recognises that entrepreneurship is increasingly being viewed by both government and the private sector as the primary means of driving economic and social development.
“Based on the feedback we have received, we are confident that this partnership and initiative has succeeded in positively supporting growth in our province,” he said.
Winde said the 600 applicants were a significant indication of the positive environment for growth in the province.
“The day those 600 applicants decided to pitch was the first step in their future competitiveness in their industry sector,” he said. “Forty of them have a chance to get funding today, but the other 560 have applied their minds and prepared their businesses to receive funding in the future.”
He also called on South African banks to take more risks when it comes to entrepreneurs.
“Our banks were praised for their low risk rating when the global recession hit. But if we want to change the ecosystem for entrepreneurs in this country, they are going to have to be open to more risky ventures,” he said.
“Job creation is key for our future, and neither government nor the private sector can make the changes happen on their own. It is partnerships like this one that are the key to our future growth.”