SOUTH AFRICA: SMME Development in the Free State Province
Southern African IDEAS has been commissioned by the Flanders International Cooperation Agency (FICA) to develop a programme for SMME development in the Free State Province that integrates HIV-AIDS prevention.
In 2006, FICA initiated a development programme in the Free State Province with two major elements: (1) Job creation through small, medium and micro enterprises (SMME) development programme, and (2) a Youth and Community Wellness in Xhariep programme. These programmes are a part of the package of assistance provide to South Africa, as defined in the 2005 Country Strategy Paper 2005-2009.
FICA has allocated EUR 7.5 million in the Free State Province over five years. Since 2006, twenty percent of this has been disbursed to the National Treasury’s RDP Fund Account and on to the Government of the Free State Province.
The eradication of poverty, the reduction of inequality and the promotion of economic growth are also important priorities for the provincial programme. Thus, a key objective of the cooperation with Flanders is job creation and the development of skills. Emphasis is given to the development of sustainable projects that will enable the target groups to successfully participate in the second economy and enable them to enter into the first economy. This will principally occur through the promotion of SMMEs in the province. Target groups are the mainly historically disadvantaged people with specific attention on women, youth and people with disabilities, including people living with HIV/AIDS.
Due to problems experienced in the implementation of these programmes, the Flemish Government decided in early 2009 to cease their operations. As a result, that National Treasury requested the provincial government to return unspent funds to the RDP Fund Account. Subsequent discussions have led to an agreement to recommence the programmes, but with different programme partners. Thus, Southern African IDEAS will assist FICA to identify programme partners in the province and to design a new, sustainable strategic focus for the programme.