With the country’s economic challenges and huge unemployment rate, many would say SA is at the centre of a “perfect economic storm”.

Businesses, particularly SMEs, are faced with rapidly increasing input costs as they turn to diesel, petrol and gas to cope with continued load-shedding.

Though we’ve heard the voices of big businesses on the state of the economy, little has been said about the SME sector — which contributes about 34% to SA’s GDP and is vital to the country’s economic growth. SMEs also employ between 50% and 60% of the national workforce.

Unfortunately, the same SMEs are also among the most vulnerable when it comes to shouldering losses caused by load-shedding, high interest rates and decreased levels of discretionary income. Compounding their difficulties is the lack of financial reserves and resources. Despite these challenges, there is hope on the horizon.

During the first quarter of 2023, new business registrations increased by 10% compared with the same period in 2022. Many business owners have taken advantage of new revenue channels enabled by technology. Digital and e-commerce sites have made it easier for SMEs to access markets, customers and suppliers.

Standard Bank also offers non-financial support to enable SMEs to thrive

SMEs form a major pillar of Standard Bank’s focus on driving Africa’s growth. Though access to funding is still an essential requirement, the bank now receives more inquiries about assistance in purchasing generators and solar panels. Standard Bank’s answer is the introduction of energy solutions such as PowerPulse, LookSee and the Business Solar Loan.

Rapid answers to finance requests have become critical in 2023. Standard Bank’s response is BizFlex, a flexible loan repayment offering tailored to small businesses that enables companies with turnovers that fluctuate monthly to pay their debts as income is earned.

The bank also offers non-financial support to enable SMEs to thrive. This includes advice on efficient business operations, cash flow management, market access and mentoring through platforms such as the BizConnect portal.

Additionally, Standard Bank supports SMEs through networking platforms and master classes, to assist them with their business models, improving cash flow management and establishing valuable connections within their industries and value chains.

Entrepreneurs are the lifeblood of SA’s economy and central to the country reaching its growth and development potential. Standard Bank, in line with its commitment to drive SA’s growth, is there to help make this a reality.

Source: businesslive.co.za