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Ecopreneurship: South Africa moves to help SMEs get down to green business

While the country has never sought to hide this collateral environmental damage, it has also been looking for ways of launching green initiatives to help save the planet as much it can.

It is in this spirit that one of the country’s leading risk financiers, Business Partners Limited (BPL), recently launched a R300 million Green Fund it said aims to finance and support profit-seeking businesses that operate in the ‘green industry’.

The BPL Green Fund will provide expansion capital, as well as start-up funding and property finance from R500 000 and up to R30 million, BPL MD Nazeem Martin said at the launch in Cape Town, adding that the type of businesses it will finance are diverse.

“We are seeking to finance businesses which actively develop, manufacture and provide goods and services aimed at ‘saving the planet’, as well as those businesses that are ‘doing the right thing’ by implementing measures and/or technology which reduce their adverse impact on the environment,” he explained.

Businesses that qualify for finance from the Fund will therefore range from renewable energy providers (offering an alternative, clean and environment friendly energy source) to energy or emissions savings product and service providers, to recyclers, waste managers and green building service and product providers.

The Fund will also consider financing businesses working to conserve natural resources, protect ecosystems and biodiversity and businesses producing healthier food sources.

“Ultimately we want to support those businesses that are making a difference,” Martin said.

The Fund will have a dedicated team to support with the application process and entrepreneurs will have access to dedicated industry specific specialists. A R50 000 interest free loan is also available to qualifying entrepreneurs for technical assistance.

“Our Green Fund seeks to develop, grow and invest in sustainable businesses, enabling them to capitalise on opportunities in the ‘green economy’ – especially in the clean and green technology, renewable energy, recycling sectors – and deliver on its inherent job and wealth creation potential,” Martin said.

“Making up 91% of formalised businesses in South Africa and contributing for more than 60% of new jobs created, SMEs are a vital contributor to the country’s GDP and employment. We believe by equipping SME entrepreneurs to thrive in the ‘green economy’, we can enhance their contribution to the economy and the environment,” he added.

Bearing in mind that the United Nations Environmental Programme Green Economy Report 2015 report demonstrates that the greening of economies can create a new engine of growth and job creation, Martin said the South African government was committed to unleashing the potential of the green economy, in line with the New Growth Path, which has identified the green economy as one of the six priority sectors to assist in reaching its target of five million new jobs by 2020.

It is believed that the New Growth Path Framework aims to create 300 000 additional direct jobs by 2020 in an effort to green the economy.

“Given our country’s rich alternative energy sources, we have the potential to reduce its unsustainable levels of carbon emissions through increasing the renewable (solar, wind and, to a lesser extent, hydro) component of its energy supply mix. And, the knock-on effect for economic growth and job creation from investing in these new alternative energy sectors will be substantial,” the MD said.

“Such initiatives and policy frameworks require huge capital investments, creating space and opportunities for large businesses. But, simultaneously, opportunities arise for SMEs within the component manufacturing and service industry sectors as higher levels of local content is specified and required within government’s policy framework,” Martin said.

“Finally, a great deal of innovation is required from private sector financiers to seize the market opportunity created by government’s green economy plans and policy frameworks.”

Africa attracted US$8 billion in renewable energy investment in 2014 (up from $5.3 billion in 2013), with South Africa accounting for U$5.5 billion alone, Martin said, quoting figures from the SADC Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Status Report.

The Fund’s core objectives will be to finance and support SMEs that:

• Support renewable energy technologies in South Africa.

• Reduce energy consumption and lower carbon emissions by improving energy efficiency.

• Promote energy savings that ensure long-term competitiveness.

• Contribute to job creation in the ‘green economy’.

Who qualifies for this Fund?

BPL seeks to finance businesses which actively develop, manufacture and provide goods and services aimed at ‘saving the planet’, as well as those businesses that are ‘doing the right thing’ by implementing measures and/or technology which reduce their adverse impact on the environment. Businesses that qualify for finance from the Fund include:

• Renewable energy providers (offering an alternative, clean and environment friendly energy source)

• Energy or emissions savings product and service providers including renewable energy projects that reduce or stop the need for electricity from the national grid

• Projects which are eligible under specific Eskom programmes

• Recyclers

• Waste managers

• Green building service and product providers

• Businesses working to conserve natural resources

• Businesses which protect ecosystems and biodiversity

• Businesses producing healthier food sources.

• How to apply for finance?

Source: southernafrican


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