JOHANNESBURG  - The African Small or Medium Enterprise (SME) Champions Forum kicked off on Tuesday -- on the sidelines of the African Investment Forum -- and is set to help realise and emphasise the potential of SMEs in the economy. 

Although it is the 6th year in succession, it is the second one to be held in South Africa and it aims to enhance job creation, innovation and economic growth in Africa.  

Over 500 participants including private business owners, policymakers, financial institutions and experts in business development for SMEs will share their findings and experiences during the two day period through a series of discussions, masterclasses, interactive sessions, roundtables, thematic master classes and sectoral sessions. 

Speaking at the forum Didier Acouetey, Chairman of the Africa SME Champions Forum said he was delighted with the support received from all the parties involved and said the initiative was "life-changing". 

“The whole idea of this forum is to bring these champions (SMEs) together and make sure to build a system that can help them grow faster. This would not be possible with all the partners that believe that SMEs can be game-changers,” said Acouetey. 

Ernest Mahlaule Group Chairman of the Gauteng Growth and Development Agency (GGDA) echoed Acouetey’s sentiments and said that it was an honour to be part of this massive conference and all the parties involved needed to make sure it had a tangible impact. 

“This forum is dedicated towards financing and targeting support for the growth of SMEs in order to create more job opportunities for Africa’s youth and women in particular,” he said. 

“The SME will have leaders from more than 20 countries in Africa and experts in SME development to make sure that fosters practical and operational solutions to financing the growth challenges faced by SMEs in Africa.” 

Sidi Ould, Director General for Economic Development in Africa said: “I would like to thank the business community for their support. Both events (Africa Investment Forum) are really supporting the rising and shining of the African continent.” 

The forum will also recognize SMEs that are transforming the African landscape through innovation and host a gala dinner, whereby the most innovative SME will be awarded $10,000.

President Cyril Ramaphosa  set an ambitious investment target to raise R1.2 trillion in new foreign and domestic direct investments over the next five years, as a result, the Gauteng Growth and Development Agency (GGDA) has geared up support towards ‘Small, Medium Enterprises’ (SME) through strategic partnerships such as the Africa SME Champions Forum, which rekindles economic activity and restores investor confidence in the African continent.

- African News Agency (ANA)