The South African Government recognises that a healthy and growing SMME sector is critical to boosting economic growth and job creation. They are also aware that SMMEs need to be able to access funding in order to grow their businesses. As a result, the Government has developed a variety of funding products that SMEs can apply for: these include outright grants, cost-sharing grants, tax incentives, growth incentives, loans and equity finance options.
It is important to understand that when Government funds are developed, they must take into account the critical needs that the Government has prioritised and they need to align with the National Development Plan. In particular, all Government funds include conditions to ensure that the money will:
- Boost key sectors that are needed to build a robust and diverse economy.
- Boost job creation to significantly lessen unemployment and this often also includes the need to ensure critical skills are transferred.
- Impact positively on economic inclusion: specifically, for previously disadvantaged people.
The good thing about Government Grants is that you do not have to repay the money. You can apply for a grant provided you meet the specific grant criteria. However, grants are significantly less common than other types of funding and tend to be once-off opportunities to assist new businesses.
Most of the grants are sector specific and designed to encourage new businesses to build these sectors. So, you’ll find there are quite a few grants available to specific Green initiatives that address issues of climate change. Therefore, businesses that address the issue of reducing the carbon footprint or alternative energy generation are reasonably well funded.
Nurturing innovation is also high on the Government’s list of priorities. However, the innovation funding tends to be quite specific and there is a strong focus on technologies that have the ability to scale (that grows to expand into other countries).
There is also funding available for the Film industry, Arts and Culture, Export, Co-operatives, Agro-processing and poverty alleviation. The total amount of these grants differs, but in general, they can range from a few thousand Rand to a million Rand, but the average grant size tends to be limited to a couple of hundred thousand Rand.
To see a full list of available Government Grants, you can read the article on government grants hosted on finfind (https://www.finfindeasy.co.za/Learn/GovernmentLenders) and select the Grant option. Finfind is an access to finance portal that provides extensive information on small business finance. Take the Find Lenders option to see a list of lenders that match your unique financial needs. This option asks you questions about the business owners, the business and your financial need and checks that you have the documents needed to apply for funding. The system then uses this information to filter its extensive database of funds to find the ones that match your needs.