President Cyril Ramaphosa says government will this year focus on significantly expanding the small business incubation programme.
The incubation programme provides budding entrepreneurs with physical space, infrastructure and shared services, access to specialised knowledge, market linkages, training in the use of new technologies and access to finance.
“The incubation programme currently consists of a network of 51 technology business incubators, 10 enterprise supplier development incubators and 14 rapid youth incubators.
“As part of the expansion of this programme, township digital hubs will be established, initially in four provinces, with more to follow,” said the president on Thursday night, as he delivered his second State of the Nation Address, in Parliament.
The President said it was expected that the hubs will provide most-needed entrepreneurial service to small and medium enterprises in the rural areas and townships – but more especially to young people who want to start their businesses.
The specific focus on the small business incubation programme was due to the role small businesses play in stimulating economic activity and employment and in advancing broad-based empowerment.
“Our greatest challenge is to create jobs for the unemployed of today, while preparing workers for the jobs of tomorrow,” he said.
“We have come up with great plans, platforms and initiatives through which we continue to draw young people in far greater numbers into productive economic activity through initiatives like the Employment Tax Incentive.
“This incentive will be extended for another 10 years,” said president Ramaphosa.
Government also launched the Youth Employment Service, which is placing unemployed youth in paid internships in companies across the economy.
The president called on all companies, both big and small, to participate in this initiative and thereby contribute not only to building their business but also to building the economy and fostering social cohesion.
“Progress is being made in the areas of installation, repair and maintenance jobs, digital and tech jobs like coding and data analytics, as well as global business services.
“These enable us to absorb more youth – especially those exiting schools and colleges, and those not in any education, training or employment – into productive economic activity and further work opportunities,” he said.
Government will also intensify the “buy South Africa” programme.
“..We will pursue measures to increase local demand through, among other things, increasing the proportion of local goods and services procured both by government and the private sector.”
He said increasing local demand, and reducing the consumption of imports, is important, because it increases the opportunities for producers within South Africa to serve a growing market.