New state-owned company for businesses a step closer to reality in South Africa

 ·17 Oct 2023

The Portfolio Committee on Small Business Development has opened the National Small Enterprise Amendment Bill for public comment.

The Bill will amend the National Small Enterprise Act and disestablish the Small Enterprise Financing Agency, the Co-operative Banks Development Agency and the Small Enterprise Development Agency.

In their place, the Small Enterprise Development Finance Agency (SEDFA) will be established.

“The purpose of SEDFA will be to ensure that the small enterprise and co-operative ecosystem is able to offer the most efficient business advice, business development services, investment support, business facilitation and incubator support,” the department previously said.

“The vision of the SEDFA is to be a leading business development entity that will drive economic transformation and inclusive growth in the economy through ensuring the provision of customised financial and non-financial support and greater access to finance for small enterprises and co-operatives.”

The company’s shareholder will be the state, and the Small Business Development Minister will be the sole representative of the shareholders.

The Bill states that the agency will be funded by money appropriated from Parliament, income gained through investment, grants, donations, bequests made to the SEDFA and money lawfully raised from any other source.

The new potential legislation will also create the Office of the Small Enterprise Ombud Service. Section 17E of the Bill states that the purpose of the Ombud is the following:

  1. “The objective of the Office is to adjudicate and dispose of complaints in terms of this Act in a manner which is procedurally fair, economical, and expeditious and by reference to what is equitable in all the circumstances, with due regard to—
    • (a) existing contractual arrangement or other legal relationship between the complainant and any other party to the complaint; and
    • (b) the provisions of this Act.
  2. The Ombud and any deputy Ombud must act independently and impartially.
  3. The Office of the Ombud must fulfil advocacy functions.”

The Department added that the Bill also makes certain provisions for the Minister to proclaim that certain practices in relation to small enterprises be prohibited as unfair trading practices.

It will also provide for transitional arrangements to be necessitated through the establishment of SEFDA and to make necessary amendments to the Co-Operative Banks Act of 2007 and the Co-operatives Act of 2005.

Public comments must be submitted to [email protected] by Tuesday, 31 October 2023.

The Bill can be found below or via this hyperlink:

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