President Cyril Ramaphosa speaks to guests at the Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) and SA SME Fund launch at Discovery, Sandton. Picture: Karen Sandison/African News Agency (ANA)
President Cyril Ramaphosa speaks to guests at the Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) and SA SME Fund launch at Discovery, Sandton. Picture: Karen Sandison/African News Agency (ANA)
COO of BLSA Busisiwe Mavuso gives the closing remarks at the Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) and SA SME Fund launch at Discovery, Sandton. Picture: Karen Sandison/African News Agency (ANA)
COO of BLSA Busisiwe Mavuso gives the closing remarks at the Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) and SA SME Fund launch at Discovery, Sandton. Picture: Karen Sandison/African News Agency (ANA)
CEO of the SA SME Fund Ketso Gordhan addresses guests at the Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) and SA SME Fund launch at Discovery, Sandton. Picture: Karen Sandison/African News Agency (ANA)
CEO of the SA SME Fund Ketso Gordhan addresses guests at the Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) and SA SME Fund launch at Discovery, Sandton. Picture: Karen Sandison/African News Agency (ANA)
JOHANNESBURG – President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday described the SA SME Fund as a "festival" of people that have come together to create value and also to address the problem of joblessness the country was facing.

"I see this as a festival of sort, there is going to be a jazz festival soon in Cape Town, I'm not going but I think I have come to the real most wonderful festival which is a festival of people who have come together to create real value and to address a challenge and a problem that we are facing in our country," Ramaphosa said at the launch of the fund.

"What we are seeking to do is to address the challenges that our country faces and these challenges are the unemployment which is huge but even as we have unemployment we already know that there are certain initiatives we can embark upon that can address the unemployment challenge and some of those have to do with what government must do."

Ramaphosa said in that regard the government had been assisted by BLSA Chairman, Dr Jabu A Mabuza, SA SME Fund CEO, Ketso Gordhan, Business Leadership SA (BLSA) CEO, Bonang Mohale, BLSA COO, Busisiwe Mavuso and SA SME Fund Chairman, Adrian Gore.

He said these were the people that kept on saying "remove the impediments, remove the hurdles that the economy has in as far as either the spectrum visas and all that".

Ramaphosa added: "We have been in deep collaboration with you to try and address those and we are making a success but at the same time it was to launch this very ambitious fundraising investment drive.

"In that regard, I really want to honour you and thank you for this wonderful initiative. 

"When it started we knew that it would be successful but now it is proving to be much more impactful than we had thought, so I see this as a celebration of the joint effort that you have put together a business to create a fund like this."

Ramaphosa said he sees the initiative as an ecosystem and that was broader than just getting funders. He said this was an ecosystem that brought together those entities that would create the necessary impact process.

The president suggested to the businesses in attendance that they should leave some space for the involvement of women.

"We should also focus on women-owned and lead businesses and we say this advisedly because the women in our country particularly black women suffered the triple oppression syndrome, much more than us men," said Ramaphosa. 

"They were oppressed because they were black women and there was a type of patriarchal system that kept them down.  We need to focus on them and uplift them so that women can come and play their rightful role.

"In the party, I lead everything that we do, everything that we touch we know its got to be 50/50. I have to put my cabinet together after the elections which we hope, which we know we are going to win and I have to seek to create that balance. 

"I want to end by saying, the appeal that you are making to other companies to be part of this, I want to endorse that in the Thuma Mina spirit".

African News Agency (ANA)