small enterprise funding
Unsustainable path for lender of last resort
Cash is king when it comes to business, writes Toby Chance
Small Enterprise Finance Agency (Sefa) CEO Thakhani Makhuvha hit the nail on the head when he presented its report to Parliament and said "cash is king" when it comes to business. He was referring to his cash-hungry clients, thousands of small-and micro-businesses, for whom a cash injection from Sefa is often the only thing that keeps them going. But he could have been referring to his own organisation, which is bleeding cash at an alarming rate. In the financial year ending March 2016, Sefa disbursed R1.2bn to small-and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and co-operatives, but wrote off R380m on loan impairments and bad debt provisions. Of its direct loans, 67% are impaired compared to its target of 39%. Sefa’s business is unsustainable and Makhuvha admitted as much when I questioned him. Sefa received R204m from the Economic Competitiveness Support Package and R202m from Treasury’s Medium Term Expenditure Framework. The support package was introduced in Finance Minister Pravin Gordha...