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Call for entries: Bank helps B2B SMEs on the path to growth

Home Business Management Finance & Investment Call for entries: Bank helps B2B SMEs on the path to growth

FNB, in partnership with Edge Growth, has launched a programme to strengthen South Africa’s B2B SME sector through specialised funding readiness support, access to bespoke funding solutions, mentorship, and customised growth plans.

An often-neglected component of the South African economic landscape is the small, black-owned business-to-business (B2B) enterprises. These companies – typically suppliers of goods or services to other businesses including larger corporations – are drivers of economic growth and employment.

But B2B SMEs face certain challenges, as ESD solution strategist at FNB, Avani Manilal, explains. “To do business with other businesses including corporates, suppliers often need to meet and adhere to certain compliance requirements and standards, which can be difficult if they lack capacity or a proper track record. This can also impact their ability to access funding to support their growth. Small businesses can also struggle to accommodate the success they’re seeking. A large contract can put tremendous stress on a company that has not built firm foundations for growth or is unable to access funding to support the contract”

Strengthening black-owned B2B businesses

FNB saw an opportunity to strengthen the black-owned B2B sector by investing in the development of B2B companies. Following the evolution of the supplier development programmes which FirstRand has conducted amongst the SMEs in its supply chain for many years, FNB sought to make these tools available to a broader market.

The result is the FNB Advancer Programme, administered by SME development solutionists Edge Growth. The FNB Advancer Programme provides an opportunity for B2B businesses to unlock their potential by focusing heavily on improving the areas that drive business growth – sales and marketing strategies and financial management, including cashflow optimisation. General support will also be available to address fundamental gaps and constraints in the business to professionalise their operations, setting themselves up for future success and access to funding opportunities.

Edge Growth CEO, Daniel Hatfield, says “It’s hard to grow off a base that needs repair. We have designed the FNB Advancer Programme to help overcome the constraints to growth that these businesses face, ensuring the fundamentals are in place – fixing the ‘leaky bucket’, leaving leadership better able to make informed decisions about their company’s future.”

The programme leverages the ESD financial and non-financial support ecosystem which FirstRand has developed, by providing participants on this programme with tailored business development support to improve growth and funding readiness. This includes the opportunity for them to apply for innovative funding solutions to further accelerate their growth.

Enhancing investment readiness

The Advancer Programme also seeks to improve businesses’ funding readiness through focused support. When it comes to accessing funding opportunities, companies need to have their ducks in a row. Without clear sight of financials and an ability to compellingly articulate business strategy, companies will struggle to advance through the diligence processes funders will require.

Manilal explains, “We often observe that financial management, record-keeping and compliance are areas that SMEs can find challenging to implement. For B2B enterprises in particular, not having these elements in place can be critical constraints to accessing new opportunities to supply other businesses and can also prevent them from accessing finance.”

Programme structure

The FNB Advancer Programme is focused on driving growth, and helping businesses get to a stage where they can communicate effectively with potential investors and access funding.

The programme comprises:

  • A business-diagnostic assessment that provides insights into your business’s strengths, weaknesses, and growth opportunities.
  • A growth plan formulated specifically for your business, based on the outcomes of your business-diagnostic assessment as well as key funding-readiness objectives.
  • Access to monthly group mentorship platforms (Entrepreneur Councils) that will help you formulate a strategy and development plan for your business.
  • An assigned mentor, who will work closely with you and your business on a one-on-one basis as you both work through your customised growth plan.
  • Access to practical business skills and expertise through monthly topical webinars geared at addressing funding-readiness topics.
  • Access to two specialists who will work closely with your business to address sales and cash flow-management advisory projects.
  • Ongoing monitoring of progress against the development plan to enhance the sustainability of your business.

Successful participants will be able to apply for funding opportunities within the FirstRand ecosystem, including to an innovative SME financing product recently developed by FNB.

Call for entries for the 2023 FNB Advancer Programme

If you run a small to medium-sized B2B business seeking growth and funding opportunities, the FNB Advancer Programme might be for you.

Potential applicants should meet the following criteria:

  • Minimum revenue of R1 million and maximum revenue of R10 million per annum
  • At least 51% black-owned
  • Must have been in business for at least one year
  • B2B businesses (must be a supplier to any other business)
  • Willing to undergo credit checks
  • SARS, PAYE, VAT compliant

Find out more or apply online by visiting the Edge Growth Incubator Portal website.

Applications opened on October 31, 2022.

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