Absa offers small business support

Johannesburg- Absa Small Business has launched a new campaign aimed primarily at job creation and the sustainability of entrepreneurs.

Called Opening Doors, the initiative not only seeks to provide financial solutions that will assist small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to open their doors for trade, but will also provide non-financial support to open doors or remove barriers that business owners are often faced with.

"Opening Doors wants to create a visible platform for the continued development and support of SMEs and to further mobilise and accentuate the entrepreneurial revolution that has already started in SA.

"SMEs are important catalysts for development, effectively addressing employment and wealth creation. A healthy SME sector is critical if we are to create the 5 million jobs that government wants to see by 2020," said Bobby Malabie, CE of Absa Business Bank.

Opening Doors will be introduced to existing and aspiring SME owners by screening a documentary, Opening Doors, in Ster-Kinekor theatres nationwide on March 29 to reach the widest audience possible.

"New jobs must be created, inspiring hope for the 40% of South Africans who either have no work, or have only infrequent work. SMEs have the ability to mobilise the sustainable growth of employment opportunities for job-seekers.

"With Opening Doors, we intend to encourage South Africans to open small businesses and create employment opportunities for the unemployed," said Malabie.

Research has shown that small businesses have moved from employing 18% of the South African employable population in 1998 to more than 60%, supporting the notion that SMEs are vital to the future of SA's economy and are also strategically important with regard to job creation initiatives, Malabie said.

Absa research has also identified five attributes that are key to becoming a successful entrepreneur. The five stories featured in the documentary show how these attributes - curiosity, risk appetite, energy, adaptability and a sense of mission - contribute to a successful business and explore the expressed and unexpressed needs of entrepreneurs.

Malabie said Absa Small Business supported close to 500 000 small businesses through both financial and non-financial initiatives, and had provided R330m to start-ups over the past three years.

"However, we believe that financial support is not the main challenge facing SMEs. For this reason, non-financial business initiatives have been developed," said Malabie.

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