“KZN entrepreneurs need more institutional support, innovation, incubators and entrepreneurship support,” partner and regional corporate finance leader at Deloitte, André Pottas, remarked after this year’s Business Funding Fair.

Although the first two annual events – which raised R360 million for the province’s budding businesses – focussed on accessing funding, this year’s took a completely different turn.

Pottas pointed out that there is far more to entrepreneurship than a good idea or an innovative project and many start-up businesses fail to get past the starting blocks simply because they do not have the solid business foundation that makes them bankable, viable and sustainable. 

Pottas admitted that it seemed they had exhausted the pipeline of larger bankable projects during the first two fairs and weren’t seeing enough new large projects coming through – as well as not enough of a spread of projects in different sectors.

“A lot of projects submitted for consideration this year stopped short of qualifying for funding because of broader issues,” Pottas explained.

He said it was time to step in during the early stages of a project to assist with basics such as formulating sound operating models and business plans, putting in place the correct technologies and systems and even marketing fledgling businesses.

As a result, he said that Deloitte and the KZN Provincial Treasury had revised the format of this year’s KZN Business Funding Fair, taking a broader and more holistic approach that aimed to get projects to first base. 

Both Leon Bezuidenhout, Deloitte’s Corporate Finance Senior Manager, pointed out that this wider understanding would not only increase businesses’ chances of securing funding but would also create businesses that would survive in the longer term. Alternatively, a more in depth understanding could also indicate a need for a “mid-course correction” that would ensure an entrepreneur could make necessary adjustments to their concept and business plan before it was too late.

Pottas added that through appointing a new panel, Deloitte was providing entrepreneurs with an opportunity to gain input and advice on commercialising their proposed business ideas from a broad range of experienced business professionals. This would ordinarily cost a significant amount and could be out of reach of many would-be entrepreneurs.

He said that still more could be done to foster an entrepreneurial culture and provide much needed support for small business in KwaZulu-Natal.