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The fund will support those businesses that are making a difference within the renewable energy market

On Thursday, a specialist risk finance group, Business Partners, launched a ZAR300 million ($21 million) fund allocated for the financing of new or existing small, medium-sized and micro-enterprises (SMMEs) within the South African renewable energy market.

The fund will provide equity and debt finance of between ZAR500,000 ($35,906) and ZAR30 million ($2,154,455), Engineering News reported.

Speaking at the launch, Business Partners executive director Gerrie van Biljon said: “There is no specific preference in terms of what type of business qualifies, but we want to support viable businesses that actively develop, manufacture and provide goods and services aimed at saving the planet and which seek to or are doing the right things by implementing measures and or technologies that reduce adverse impacts on the environment.

“Ultimately we want to support those businesses that are making a difference.

He added: “People assume that it needs to be new innovation or a start-up, but that’s not the case; companies already active in the space also qualify.”

Executive director, Christo Botes, said in a company statement that “smaller businesses are agile and have the ability to quickly overcome various obstacles to establish and attain longevity. Compared to bigger corporations, smaller businesses are easily adaptable to movements in the market due to their size.”

Risk finance: funding entrepreneurs

Selected SMMEs will receive access to industry information, a Web-based library, newsletters, peer mentorship and networking, regular workshops, relationships with key role-players, such as universities, dedicated industry mentors and an interest-free technical loan of up to ZAR50,000, reported Engineering News.

Van Biljon stated: “We’re passionate about funding entrepreneurs or the square pegs in a sea of round holes.”

Business Partners’ various funds had seen it invest R15.9-billion in various SMMEs, creating 596 388 jobs and enabling 70 506 business transactions.

Van Biljon highlighted that SMMEs account for over 35% of South Africa’s gross domestic product, conceptualising new ideas, products and services to the market, adding to job creation and contributing taxes for development, according to the media report.

Botes said last month in a statement that: “Entrepreneurs have the ability to create new, competitive markets through innovation and creativity.”

Van Biljon added: “Companies that can access this fund include plastic recyclers, energy-savings businesses, companies that provide alternative, clean and environment-friendly energy sources, firms that sell ‘save-the-planet’ business sources, as well as those that provide services or components for green building.”