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Small Business Friday celebrates five years

South Africa’s biggest ‘Small Business Day of the Year’ turns five on 02 September 2016. The National Small Business Chamber (NSBC) and title sponsor, Nedbank, say that the launch of the Small Business Friday (SBF) campaign in 2012 was in an effort to draw attention to the important role entrepreneurship plays within the local economy and the need to grow the sector.

Mike Anderson, NSBC Founder and CEO, says that the hope of SBF is to encourage the South African population to engage every Friday. ‘By making a conscious decision to support a small business on a Friday, consumers are demonstrating a powerful commitment to developing the local economy. The official launch date will coincide with the arrival of Spring. Generally a ‘feel good’ time of year, we are aiming to infuse positive energy into the SME sector and publicly call all in South Africa to action in support of small businesses across the nation.’

Over the past five years the NSBC, together with Nedbank, has created a community of small business owners and entrepreneurs across the country. It has since become a 365 day movement, elevating each Friday and peaking on the official Small Business Friday in September. It has consistently celebrated and recognised the importance of the small business community, and successfully driven home the message of collaboration and community participation.

As a bank for small business, Nedbank continues to invest in various interventions such as the seminars, which provide practical solutions and advice to entrepreneurs. The bank has also provided over R20 million in enterprise development assistance to emerging black SMEs over the years, benefiting over 2 000 entrepreneurs with mentoring, skills and other interventions aimed at supporting their success.

‘We also host SimplyBiz™, launched in 2010. It is an online portal that has enabled over 30 000 entrepreneurs to network and find practical information that aids the starting, operating and growing of a small business. This is in addition to the Nedbank Small Business Index™ which provides industry insights and issues affecting small businesses,’ says Tracy Afonso (Head of Small Business, Strategy and Professional Banking at Nedbank).

Nedbank offers a holistic approach to cater for the financial needs of start-ups, as well as growing and established businesses across a wide range of industries. ‘We offer business owners access to a dedicated relationship banker to support and guide business owners with the various financial decisions (lending or otherwise), equip them with the right tools to manage and grow their business, and to lower their administrative burden,’ notes Afonso.

‘This year’s campaign is important because we celebrate five years of building and boosting small businesses. The initial campaign was conceived within weeks and consumers were urged to support it through a national radio, digital, social media and PR campaign. We didn’t know how big it was going to be and were surprised by how fast it grew, the positive feedback and general acceptance of the movement,’ says Anderson.

‘More importantly, SBF has since driven real results for small businesses across the country and has changed the habits of many consumers.’

While the campaign is recognised as a movement, Anderson says that it really is about a new mindset and simply the right thing to do: ‘Through the NSBC’s annual National Small Business Survey, we have ascertained that the number one small business requirement and challenge is to grow its customer base.  It is for this reason that we want to mobilise and encourage the nation to give greater support to small businesses.’

He says that the results are not only meaningful to the business but the overall bigger entrepreneurship picture: ‘If more people can support small businesses, they are able to build their infrastructure and employ more people, therefore alleviating unemployment and driving job creation. This is nation building at its finest.’

Anderson says that the first five years has been focused on putting tools in the hands of small business owners and rallying them to also own and drive SBF: ‘We need business owners to also encourage consumers to support the movement and go out and support local small businesses and we hope that it will continue.’

He says that it is a collaborative effort across the board and the aim is to now mobilise the movement across all sectors, encouraging more businesses to participate and building partnerships with other companies to support the small business cause: ‘The future plan is to win support not just from small businesses, consumers and activists, but other large companies to also partner and promote the cause and importantly, to lobby government officials to make it “an official day”.’

Small Business Friday will take place on 02 September 2016. Those interested can get involved now by pledging support on the pledge wall hosted on the official site www.smallbizfriday.co.za.

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