“Small business owners, know that funding is available and waiting for you, as long as you meet the criteria.” This was the message from the Small Enterprise Finance Agency (Sefa), announced during a Stakeholder Engagement Breakfast Session held at the Khayelitsha Training Centre last Friday. The organisation invited clients and other small business owners from in and around Khayelitsha as part of its public awareness campaigns. According to Nothemba Gqiba, Head of Marketing and Communications, the organisation is reaching out to entrepreneurs who often fail to meet the criteria. “We want them to understand that we are here for them and we are here to make sure they get the funding they need for their businesses. We are passionate about small business as they are pivotal to the unemployment problem. There are many funding opportunities but business owners do not often know what is needed of them,” she said.The National Development Plan envisaged that small enterprises will create about 90% of jobs in the next few years. It is against this backdrop that Sefa considers this engagement critical to ensure that entrepreneurs are informed of the financial support availableIn the past four years only, Gqiba said her organisation has hosted more than six thousand entrepreneurs across the country.Sefa is an agency of the Small Business Development Department, which is mandated to provide access to finance for small businesses and co-operatives at up to Five million rands. Gqiba said that she was very impressed with the vibrancy and the variety of businesses owned by the entrepreneurs who attended the event. “What we often find is that they have great ideas, big vision but they lack the ability to articulate why they need funding and how they are going to use the funds. Lack of concrete business plans that show proper research make funding impossible,” said Gqiba. Siphe Booi, owner of Eco Car Wash, shared the same sentiment as that of Gqiba regarding proper research. Booi founded the business earlier this year with Simphiwe Louw and Sandile Mdletye.They conducted solid research and business plans leading to him getting funding and support from National Youth Development Agency and Small Enterprise Development Agency. “It was a very interesting session as we have learnt a lot and I agree that research and a solid business plan is important. As for us, we came to realise the importance of these aspects once the business was already running,” he said. He also advised fellow start ups to continue with their research much as the business was running. “You have to keep researching so that you keep up with current trends in your industry, legislation as well as be prepared for the future,” he concluded.