In a bid to address late payments for black entrepreneurs, with “complaints almost on a daily basis”, the Black Business Council (BBC) is establishing a hotline to monitor the payments with part of a R3 million grant from the National Empowerment Fund (NEF).
The BBC’s chief executive, Xolani Qubeka, said yesterday that though the complaints could not be quantified into amounts in late payments, the BBC “will be collecting surveys which will be published as data at the end of each year”.
He said the business chamber had undertaken roadshows to eight provinces last year and late payments had topped the list of complaints.
Last month President Jacob Zuma told a gala dinner of the Black Management Forum that the government was mulling drastic measures to push departments to pay small and medium-sized service providers on time, or at most a month late, to minimise the risk of these businesses failing because of lack of cash flow.
He said these measures would be incorporated into the performance contracts of senior government officials and those who failed to pay small businesses on time would face disciplinary action.
This came after Sanyati, a black-empowered engineering and construction company, applied for the termination of its business rescue proceedings and the start of liquidation after being owed up to R80m by the Free State government and other departments.
Philisiwe Buthelezi, the chief executive of the NEF, said the R3m might seem insignificant but the development funder and the BBC intended to go to other funders with bigger balance sheets to augment it.
She said: “This (grant) will support consolidation of the BBC’s technical capacity as well as its national campaigns and advocacy work.”
Buthelezi said the NEF’s partnership with the BBC would help grow black industrialists across many sectors of the economy and tackle the country’s huge industrial backlog.
Targeted sectors included renewable energy, tourism, mining, minerals, beneficiation, agri processing, business process outsourcing and infrastructural projects.
BBC’s president, Ndaba Ntsele, said:
“This grant funding by the NEF will enable the BBC to establish foundational structures and to build capacity so that we may optimise our effectiveness in policy formulation and thereby increase our ability to roll out critical national campaigns.”
The NEF and the BBC signed an agreement yesterday that means together they will:
n Explore the development of an enterprise development fund in terms of which members of the BBC or enterprises within its network will contribute to an enterprise development fund, which will be managed by the NEF;
n Form strong partnerships with other industry players to enable the creation of skills development programmes and other support measures; and
n Use the strength of their relationships and structures to popularise their joint initiatives and create opportunities for empowerment, socio-economic development and enterprise development.
The BBC will facilitate the referral of transactions that meet the NEF’s funding criteria and are commercially viable, on behalf of its members.