DURBAN 04-04-2013 KZN Funding Fair by Deloitte Media Brieifing at La Lucia. From left is Andre Pottas, Nisaar Mohamed, Liesel Beires, Clive Coetzee and Guy Brazier. Picture by: S'bonelo Ngcobo

Forty hopeful KwaZulu-Natal entrepreneurs could leave a ‘funding fair’ with their dreams of finance fulfilled. In turn the local economy will benefit by the launching of businesses worth more than R400 million and the creation of jobs.

The entrepreneurs will be participating in the two-day event, a private-public partnership between the provincial government of KwaZulu-Natal and Deloitte, after their projects and business proposals were chosen, from more than 100 entries, for participation.

The funding fair, the first to be held in South Africa, was developed by Deloitte and its partners, the KZN Treasury and the KZN Department of Economic Development and Tourism.

The aim is to promote the development of medium-sized businesses that require R10m or more to enable their owners to undertake programmes that could be launched in urban and rural areas and create jobs at various levels.

The fair has been designed to help entrepreneurs circumvent the problems of identifying potential funding organisations from the government and private sector. By bringing appropriate organisations and entrepreneurs together under one roof, Deloitte is acting as a catalyst for local economic growth. The idea was initially mooted at a meeting of the KZN Growth Coalition – a body composed of KZN government departments and private sector participants.

Deloitte was subsequently mandated by the province to begin actively exploring opportunities for local economic growth and to develop a database that would support it.

Of the 40 projects selected for presentation at the fair, 10 were concerned with the agricultural industry or the agro-industry supply chain.The others were drawn primarily from manufacturing and tourism.

The 40 finalists will be given an opportunity to present a business concept and convince funders of the expertise they have in various areas.

While some of the candidates are presenting their plans, others will be in “workshops” at which Deloitte specialists will be on hand to help with specific business issues.

What entrepreneurs have in common is pride and excitement in the prospects of their businesses. However, many fall short in what is required when pitching an idea to possible funders.

For instance, many don’t understand an investor prefers investing in a business in which the owner is sharing the risk. One hundred percent funding is therefore not generally available. Other sticking points usually occur when a financier demands a portion of the equity in return for investment, or questions an entrepreneur’s experience in a particular sector.

The lack of a comprehensive business plan with forecasts, a marketing strategy, defined suppliers and potential customers also impacted negatively on financiers.

The concept for this fair is simple: Potential funders and entrepreneurs will be brought together next Tuesday. The selected entrepreneurs will each be given 15 minutes to submit their business propositions to a panel representing over 10 major funding bodies.

The focus will be on larger entities as well as companies that may already be established, but need access to capital to take their enterprises to the next level. This will ensure that where financial assistance is granted, jobs will be created.

The acid test will be when we review how many projects were launched, what finance has flowed into KZN and what the businesses have achieved.

* Andre Pottas is the Deloitte corporate finance advisory leader for sub-Saharan Africa and Leon Bezuidenhout a senior manager at Deloitte corporate finance.