Government Passes Halfway Mark in Black Industrialist Programme



PIC:   Minister Rob Davies arm wrestles FNB’s Kgosi Ledimo

 The Government is now more than halfway towards creating its initial target of 100 Black Industrialists (BIs) with Trade and Industry (dti) Minister Rob Davies announcing that 52 BIs have now been supported by his programme.

The dti is aiming for 100 by March next year, and is offering grant support in a one-stop offering alongside other government agencies which offer loan support.

Davies was in Rosebank to sign an agreement with FNB, under which the bank will use its website to supply information on state incentives – initially just the BI programme.

Said FNB’s Bobby Madhav, who is head of the trade finance department: “The manufacturing sector plays a critical role in the economy.  The long-term goal is to enable a greater number of South Africans access to dti schemes, by making the information more accessible.”

This new FNB initiative follows on from an existing one, which assists companies which sign up for a business account to also register their business.

Said FNB executive Sanjeev Orie: “When businesses open an account, they will be able to integrate with all dti incentives.  How do we make these programmes and incentives available to businesses?  If you integrate FNB and the dti, the customer experience is through a single portal.”

He said the offering would not be limited to FNB customers, and Davies said he hoped other banks will soon offer similar assistance.

“At the moment we have approved 52 projects, with R4.5bn projected investment value, creating 9 000 jobs.   We are open to other banks with similar kinds of partnerships.  We must find ways to support the upgrading of (BI) players who can invest, create jobs and industrial capacity.”

Davies noted that banks have in the past funded too few businesses, with most of their focus on consumer credit.

“We need to see a significant turnaround in the way in which credit is extended in South Africa.  The biggest credit in SA is for consumption.  It is easier to borrow money to buy a car than to start a business,” he complained.

The Hosting

As always, I like to judge an event not just on its content, but also on the way it is hosted. They weren’t on the ball.  I had to ask for the media pack, and then for the programme, and then for an electronic version of the material.  When I asked the MC for his business card, he said wasn’t carrying them because this might have produced a bulge in his suit.  Vanity over efficiency. On arrival, I tried to connect to wi-fi, and was told there were too many users already. Ironic then, that Rob Davies went on about the 4th Industrial Revolution.   I think the Hyatt is still struggling with the 2nd one.  Oh, and we were offered pens and paper-notepads.   How 21st Century can you get?

The event was scheduled for 10, and when I arrived there was a plate of fruit and yogurt.  I would say fresh fruit, but neither the green nor the yellow melon, nor the strawberry was ripe.    The coffee was halfway between unpleasant and acceptable.  I took tea.   Hotels like the Hyatt should be a showcase for our finest fruit and veg.  Not so.  There was a basket of pastries, not one of which would have won its maker an entry into one of the many TV baking competitions.  Five star, it wasn’t.

I heard from a colleague that the event started late because a pampered and inefficient SABC crew was running late.  This is not the first time those of us with manners have fallen victim to the incestuous and fawning relationship between the SABC and government.

The hot breakfast was served after the signing, at 11.30.   Yup, 11.30.  There was cold bacon and stale toast, with quite pleasant egg.  Sausages, mushrooms, steak and other stuff had been put on the plate.

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