South Africa’s Minister of Small Business Development Lindiwe Zulu (pictured above) this week quietly announced the 40 small businesses chosen to receive support in its National Gazelles programme. But who are these 40 firms?
The department is partnering with the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda) to link potentially high-growth businesses with focused support as well as funding from various stakeholders. Telecommunications company MTN has already pledged R7.5 million ($525,000) over three years to the programme's beneficiaries.
To qualify for the programme firms must be at least two years old, have an annual turnover of between R1 million and R30 million and employ at least two people.
Tuesday's announcement is expected to be the first from an annual call for applications.
The names were selected by audit firms Auditors Ernst & Young, KPMG and Sizwe Ntsaluba Gobodo from among a list of 200 candidates shortlisted from over 1,800 applicants.
The announcement by Zulu was made on Tuesday and a weighty PDF document which contains details of the 40 companies (click here for the document – with the names placed below this post) was provided on Wednesday morning on Seda's website.
'A waste of time'
In January, Thami Mazwai, a consultant who initially conceived the programme, said in an article in the Financial Mail that programmes would also be designed for the 160 finalists who don’t make it.
However one of the 160 unsuccessful applicants that Small Business Insight spoke to - a Gauteng business owner - said the only support he got was a one-day workshop about what it takes to be an entrepreneur from a consultant, which he said was "a waste of time".
He said he as well as others felt that the workshop, which was presented in April to the 160 applicants who didn't make it to the final 40, was a waste because it wasn't practical enough for someone who has been running a business for some years already.
The programme, he added, had been "extremely disappointing" for him because he had expected to get access to further kinds of business support, rather than just a once-off workshop.
One positive however, he said, was the chance to network with other entrepreneurs - he was able to link up with a business owner who runs a logistics company.
Really high growth?
A 2013 report by Endeavor reveals that firms growing at 20% or more per year represented only 13% of South African firms, but created a quarter of the country’s net new jobs during the previous three years.
This makes these firms indispensable if South Africa is to create the jobs that the country badly needs. Yet worldwide governments have not been too successful at fostering high-growth entrepreneurs (see this earlier post).
In addition few among the 40 businesses appear to be involved in developing new technologies or innovative solutions (the list contains a number of construction companies and steel fabrication businesses and even a hotel, a lodge and a landscaping business). Are these the country's next potential high-growth firms?
List of the 2016 National Gazelles
-Bronscor (Engineering services)
-Flatfoot Airconditioners (Heating, ventilation and air-conditioning and mechanical engineering
-Fred Footware (Footware and apparel)
-LAN Telecoms (telecommunications)
-X Spark (Design, App and software development and ICT)
-iGreens SA (Solar energy, water and urban cleaning solutions)
-Roses for U (Landscaping)
-Bayajula (Advisory, business processes, training, and technology)
-Digital Republic Consulting (Analytics and insights)
-Futurent Consulting (Consulting and mentoring)
-Gridbow (Electrical and infrastructure projects)
-Signs4sa (Signage manufacturing, rental and maintenance)
-Memeza Shout (Innovative connected community safety technology)
-Natural Medicinal Services (Natural herbal products)
-Ordained Trading (Steel fabrication)
-TCM Developments (Sanitation)
-Vaalnek Boutique Hotel (Hotel)
-Fawakhe Trading (Dates processing and wholesaler)
-Hugo’s Speed Shop (Panel beating)
-Lakeshore Trading (Road and building construction)
-MCE Fabrication and Construction (Steel fabrication)
-National Adhesive Manufacturers (Adhesives)
-Newtricion Wellness Institute (Dietetics)
-Ugesi Africa Consulting (Electrical engineering)
-Umzungulu Windows (Manufacturing steel windows and frames)
-CYBRONIX (Electrical repayment systems)
-Amphiguard (Bricks manufacturing)
-Deline Investments (Pharmaceutical services)
-Tshete Holdings (Construction and quantity surveying)
-Tzaneen Country Lodge (Hotel lodge)
-Brimis Engineering (Mechanical engineering)
-Daph M Trading (Construction)
-DC Mobile Forklift Mechanics (Commercial vehicle sales)
-Congretype Green Energy Solutions (Renewable energy manufacturing)
-Modi Mining (Mining engineering services)
-Prothane Industrial (Metallurgical process plant consumables)
-Comessa Food Services (Food manufacturing)
-Eco Furniture Design (Furniture store and supplier)
-Elim (Spa quality range)
-WAM Technology (Software for health and water sectors)
Click here for the document that contains the details of the 40 gazelles. Timm is a South African who writes on small business. Follow him on Twitter at @Smallbinsight.
*This post was amended after an earlier version incorrectly reported that the list of the 40 gazelles were only made available on Seda's website on Thursday - when in fact it was uploaded onto the Seda site on Wednesday morning.
Stephen Timm is a