The success of the inaugural KwaZulu-Natal Funding Fair in April last year, with R344 million worth of funding having been secured for new business ventures pitched at the event, has resulted in the fair being hosted again this year.
It will take place in Durban in April and organisers Deloitte, with the provincial government, want entrepreneurs and project promoters to take advantage.
The organisers have made a call to KZN business people or project promoters with bankable projects to apply to pitch their business plans to a range of funders who will be at the fair. The closing date for submissions is March 2.
“The problem is not funding, there are billions of rand available from various sources – from development agencies and banks, to venture capitalists and private equity investors… The problem is we are not getting enough good, bankable projects,” said Clive Coetzee of the KZN Treasury – a partner on the initiative with the Department of Economic Development and Tourism.
“We call on entrepreneurs and project promoters with clever new business ideas and ventures to apply to be part of the KZN Funding Fair, so they can pitch their ideas and hopefully get funding to turn it into a thriving new business.
“We want to kick-start more business and venture in KZN through the fair to boost job creation and the economy in both urban and rural areas,” he said.
Coetzee said the inaugural fair last year was a success with more than R344m in funding secured for new projects, but importantly it created awareness and a platform for face-to-face interaction between project promoters and funding institutions.
Leon Bezuidenhout, a corporate finance advisory senior manager at Deloitte, said: “The success of the KZN Funding Fair lies in more than just the money raised, according to feedback from both project promoters and funders who attended the 2013 event… Funders were particularly happy with the groundwork that had been done with the project promoters to get their projects to a stage where they were ready to be presented to funders.”
He said project promoters also appreciated the broad range of funders, available over the course of the fair and that they did not have to travel to meet the funders.
“Funders ranged from government agencies to banks and venture capitalists… And, while all were looking for a return on their investments, different agencies may have slightly different mandates.
“Government agencies, for example, place emphasis on jobs created, while venture capitalists are willing to take a higher risk in search of a higher return,” added Bezuidenhout.
Of the R344m in funding committed to a range of projects pitched at the 2013 fair, R170m went to technology projects related to start-ups and an incubator environment.
The next biggest lot, about R80m, was committed to a tourism project on the KZN North Coast. Well-known rugby coach and farmer, Dick Muir, also secured funding – for his Just Veggies venture with business partner Lex Campbell. A bio-technology project that harnesses an enzyme found in pineapples was funded to the tune of R14m. - The Mercury