As small businesses in South Africa are recognised as a driving force for economic growth and creation of jobs, enterprise development programmes offered by government and corporates offer black entrepreneurs the opportunity to find support and training to further develop their small businesses.

Businesses serve a critical role in driving more inclusive and sustainable development. Large companies can create positive impact by improving and growing development. Corporates can achieve this by including small business into their value chains and local communities.

Helping small businesses to achieve sustainability and growth is vital for both the development of industries and corporations. Small businesses are critical for job creation, improving living standards, raising productivity and achieving inclusive economic growth and social cohesion.

In the coming years there will be a great demand for jobs and the private sector will be the core to the solution of this challenge. Many of the new jobs will come out of the small, medium and micro-enterprises, which is why enterprise development programmes are emerging around the world.

What is an enterprise development programme?

Enterprise development involves the growing of small and medium-sized black businesses through the provision of finance and support, assisting in their business development and sustainability. In creating a programme for enterprise development, budding entrepreneurs and all they hire will earn a living, which in turn uplifts their quality of life. These programmes could lead to long term economic growth for entrepreneurs, their families and friends and their entire communities.

The enterprise development programme is just one of the elements of BB-BEE and is considered an effective way to combat poverty across the globe. Its objective is to teach potential entrepreneurs how to create a sustainable business that will grow and increase job creation, which in turn contributes to economic growth.

Enterprise development programmes ought to be aimed at transferring skills and wealth as well as leading to the sustainable growth of small businesses.

How can you benefit from enterprise development programmes?

Enterprise development programmes aim to pass on knowledge, experience and business support. This aim will provide start-ups with essential tools and resources that can then be used for the development, survival and success of business.

Essential tools and resources can be divided into financial and non-financial support. Non-financial support can be provided in the form of mentorship, market access, network access and the learning of new skills.

80% of South Africa’s start-ups fail in the first three years and this is largely attributed to a lack of support. However, the survival rate of a start-up is increased by the incubation process, which assists small businesses in becoming financially viable.

The Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) and FNB’s Entrepreneurial Dialogues, State of Entrepreneurship in South Africa report revealed that: “Business incubators assist emerging companies survive and grow during the start-up period, when they are most vulnerable. The incubation process improves the survival rate of start-up companies by assisting them to become financially viable, usually within two to three years.”

The FNB/GIBSs report explains:

“Start-ups fail at a rate of about nine in ten in the first two years of operation. Within the 27 SEDA incubators (in operation), the survival rates are in the region of 84% to 97% in the first two years of operation. Post-graduation from the incubator, the numbers come down but they are still in excess of 70%.”

Why do corporate businesses offer enterprise development?

The B-BBEE Amendments are providing corporate South Africa with an ideal opportunity to construct sustainable businesses and to play a lead role in the socioeconomic transformation of the country. Investment and improvement in local economies can ensure profitability and economic success for all business around the world.

By offering an enterprise development programme corporates are awarded:

  • Points on the BEE scorecard
  • An opportunity to diversify their supply chain
  • An innovative way to increase business for both small and medium sized enterprises.

It’s an inspiring vision for business to play a real role in the sustainability and growth in the country’s economy.

Here are some of the various types of enterprise development programmes that an applicant could apply for:

Youth enterprise development programmes

The unemployment of youth in South Africa is one of the highest in the world. The steady increase of the youth population is not being matched by an increase in job opportunities. There is a large discrepancy between what the youth are being taught and what employers expect them to know.

1 - Junior Achievement South Africa Enterprise Development Programme

Junior Achievement South Africa is a unique intensive incubator style entrepreneurship skills programme. The aim of this project is to address the unemployment challenge amongst the youth. This programme provides practical entrepreneurial skills and traditional workplace readiness skills. This will solve the challenge the youth face when entering the job market with insufficient experience.

The programme consists of 20 four hour sessions which runs for three to four months. The students are expected to start running a real business, with the intention that the businesses are sustained after the programme is completed.

Who should apply?

This programme is targeted at young adults between the ages of 18 and 25, who are not in school and are currently unemployed. Participants are chosen based on:

  • Commitment to the programme
  • Inclination to participate in entrepreneurial activity
  • Ability to demonstrate problem solving skills
  • Commitment to their personal development.

To contact Junior Achievement South Africa

Women’s Enterprise Development Programmes

These enterprise development programmes are created to increase the economic opportunities for women entrepreneurs by supporting them in starting, strengthening and expanding their businesses.

Read: 10 Dynamic Black Entrepreneurs

2 - The Women’s Enterprise Development Initiative

This is a niche private equity and Technical Assistance Programme that creates superior returns for investors by investing in women entrepreneurs. This fund supports wealth and job creation, while providing support to women in developing countries, helping them to build viable and sustainable enterprises.

Who should apply?

Dynamic women with a record of achievement in businesses? that support women

To contact Women’s Enterprise Development Initiative

FSP Enterprise Development Programmes

FSP Enterprise Development Programmes are offered by banks or financial institutions.

Related: How Women Entrepreneurs Can Change the SA Business Landscape

3 - Standard Bank Enterprise Development Programme

Standard Bank is offering a specialised Enterprise Development programme. The aim of this programme is to offer financing solutions to primarily BEE businesses that have achieved access to superior earning opportunities from corporates or the public sector.

Who qualifies?

  • A black owned entity, either 51% black ownership or 30% black women ownership
  • A supplier wanting to sell equity to become more BEE viable.

How to apply

Standard Bank has a different approach to enterprise development programmes. A business will select or choose a supplier and then contact Standard Bank, the bank will then offer the supplier financial assistance, which will enable them to meet their obligation to fulfil the contract.

For more information


Resource: Government Funding

4 - First National Bank – Vumela Enterprise Development Fund

This initiative was developed in 2010 and has already invested R186 million into alternative SME financing tools. The aim of this programme is to unlock explosive growth in SME businesses and for creating optimal conditions within these businesses to help them to achieve success.

Who qualifies?

“Our solution will help corporates meet the new B-BBEE requirements which could see some companies downgraded if they do not empower their supplier base. More importantly, the holistic nature of our model could yield a sustainable economic growth model among the participating companies,” says Head of Enterprise Development at FNB, Heather Lowe. This programme also targets high-impact SME’s and is open to all industries.

How to apply

Fill in the application form which is readily available and send it in to FNB or Vumela.

To find out more

For more information on the Vumela Enterprise Development fund, please email or

Resource: Government Funding and Grants for Small Businesses

5 - Nedbank Enterprise Development Programme

This programme offers you growing business flexible financial solutions along with business strategy mentorship programmes. By joining this programme you get access to a number of resources, including:

  • Flexible lending, which will help you to purchase fixed assets, maintain your inventory and meet your ongoing operating needs
  • Customised credit is structured to suit your businesses industry and cash flow cycle
  • Mentorship and training, which will take place through seminars and accredited institutes
  • This will help you to improve your business expertise
  • Networking opportunities will enable you to meet like-minded entrepreneurs in your area.

How to apply and find out more

Apply through the Nedbank website or contact them directly:

Related: Tax Basics For Business Owners

6 - Absa – Enterprise Development Fund

Absa host a R250 million Enterprise Development fund, which finances SMME’s in the value chains of these corporates or government entities. This Enterprise Development Programme will also involve corporates and government entities that are interested, allowing them to meet their ESD obligations.

Who qualifies?

  • Previously disadvantaged individuals with 100% black owned business
  • Small to Medium-sized Enterprise (SME). This includes start-ups and existing businesses.
  • Your SME cannot get normal financing from normal banking channels
  • You are a South African citizen, residing permanently in South Africa
  • You are fully involved in day-to-day operations
  • You already have the skills/ expertise relevant to your business
  • Your business can show profitable historical financials or a realistic cash flow forecast
  • The business’ main transactional account is held with Absa, no split banking is allowed
  • You need a loan of between R5 000 and R3 million with a maximum loan term of five years
  • The economic benefit realised through the finance application resides in the province where your SME resides.

How to apply

Complete an application form and bring it in to your nearest Absa branch, along with the supporting documentation listed on the last page of the form.

Resource: Absa Enterprise Funding

Other Enterprise Development Programmes

These enterprise development programmes don’t belong to any one category and often have contributors from finance and government or are private sector developed, hosted by large companies themselves.

7 - Tholoana Enterprise Programme

This is a high-energy solution that has helped hundreds of businesses to accelerate their success. The programme includes all round support, expert mentorship, skills training workshops, access to market, and qualified investment-readiness support.

The Tholoana Enterprise Programme has been seen to improve the confidence and skills of entrepreneurs.

Who qualifies?

  • The business is black-owned and managed
  • Your business is operational
  • Your business is headquartered and registered in South Africa
  • The business should be commercially sustainable and viable
  • You are involved in the business’s daily operations and management on a full time basis
  • You have the skills and experience necessary for the type of business you’re engaged in
  • Your business is in the initial stages of operations (older than 6 months and no more than 5 years).

How to apply

You have to register on the portal first, and then you can apply online here.

Please ensure you read the instructions on the portal carefully and download the “Online Application Guidance Document” from the link available on the portal.

For more information

Contact the SAB Foundation Tholoana Team directly on 086 111 1690 or 011 881 8798 (during office hours).

8 - The Royal Fields and Job Funds’ Enterprise Development Programmes

Royal Fields Finance is a financial services group that focus on funding small and medium enterprises; in partnership with the Jobs Fund they have launched an enterprise development program worth R 100 million to support SME’s.

Who qualifies?

This programme focuses on SME’s that are unable to raise funding from banks or traditional funding institutions, due to a lack of trading history, security and risk capital.

The target of this programme is small and medium sized enterprises, that have an annual turnover of less than R60 million and that require funding between R 70 000 and R2,5 million.

The following sectors will be emphasised for this programme as they have been identified as high growth businesses:

  • Infrastructure
  • Manufacturing
  • Small scale farming
  • Renewable and clean energy

How to apply?

There is a comprehensive application process which can be seen on their website here.

You will need to complete a telephonic interview, face-to-face interview, credit assessment, compilation of credit reports. Your application will then be considered by the Credit Committee and an onsite due diligence is conducted to assess your business.

For more information

Please contact Royal Fields Finance at:

Resource: The Basics Of Registering A New Company

9 - Siyakhula Enterprise Development Programme

Total South Africa launched the Siyakhula programme, which is part of Total’s commitment to transformation through the development of black entrepreneurs and enterprises. Total South Africa CEO and Managing Director, Mr. Christian des Closières explains: “Although enterprise development has been a component of Total South Africa’s transformation strategy for some 60 years, it is time for the company to put more effort and resources into our enterprise development projects, start consolidating on the remarkable gains, and expand our enterprise development footprint into one consolidated programme, Siyakhula.”

Who qualifies?

This enterprise development programme focuses on three specific sectors, namely:

  • Retail – service station network enterprise development
  • Independent service providers
  • Road transport

How to apply

To find out more send your enquiry or application to:

Government Enterprise Development Programmes

These are enterprise development programmes that are offered through various departments of the government. Government enterprise development programmes are targeted at specific demographics, including the youth and women, or focused on particular areas of trade.

10 - National Youth Development Agency (NYDA)

NYDA is the national youth development agency and they offer a government supported and initiated enterprise development programme. The programme offers entrepreneurship training which corresponds to the labour market and the business needs of young people.

Who qualifies?

Awareness training is aimed at South African citizens between the ages of 14 and 35.

Structured/modular training is aimed at South African citizens between the ages of 18 and 35 and who are existing business owners or aspiring entrepreneurs.

For more information and how to apply

Applicants and those wanting to learn more about this enterprise development programme find your nearest branch information here.

Read: NYDA Funding

11 - The Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA)

The Small Enterprise Development Agency is an agency affiliated to the Department of Small Business Development. The mandate is to implement a standard and common national delivery network for small enterprise developments as well as integrate government-funded small enterprise support agencies across all tiers of government.

For who qualifies and how to apply

Please find the application forms here.

For more information

  • Contact SEDA: 012 441 1000
  • Business Information Centre: 0860 103 703
  • Website: