South Africa’s new small business agency

first_img24 April 2012 The Small Enterprise Finance Agency will have access to R1.4-billion in funding for South African small businesses over the next three years, with input from the Industrial Development Corporation being crucial to its effectiveness, says Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel. Launching the new state agency in Cape Town on Monday, Patel said the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) had pledged R921-million to the body over the next three years, while the government had put in R535-million. The Small Enterprise Finance Agency (Sefa), a result of a merger between Khula, the SA Micro Finance Apex Fund (Samaf) and the IDC’s small business lending portfolio, will be a wholly-owned agency of the IDC. It will focus on providing loans of up to R3-million to small businesses.IDC know-how, positioning key Samaf and Khula had previously lent out through banks and financial intermediaries which would then on-lend to small businesses. Patel said Sefa would continue to use these two channels, but would add a third channel – that of direct lending, through a direct lending product currently being piloted. “We want to ensure that the impact is felt in jobs, in sustainable enterprises and in the growth of entrepreneurship in the economy,” said Patel, added that the lending market know-how that the IDC brought would be important. The state development finance institution would also be better placed to include small businesses in major projects it was financing, by working out where the opportunities lay for contracts for small businesses – thereby helping to break the current high concentration of big businesses in South Africa’s economy.Co-ordination with other agencies, banks Sefa will work closely with other agencies, such as the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda), as well as with provincial agencies that finance small businesses – including Limdev in Limpopo province, the Gauteng Enterprise Propeller, the Free State Development Corporation and the Eastern Cape Development Corporation. The new agency would also partner with the Postbank which would be set up soon, Patel said, as well as work with the country’s commercial banks to ensure that its products complemented theirs. In addition, Sefa would encourage large companies to mentor small firms and bring them into their supply chains. Patel said the agency’s cost-to-lending ratio was vital, noting that it would save about R20-million a year through office space and services no longer being duplicated by entities that merged in its formation.Entrepreneurship ‘vital to any dynamic economy’ Entrepreneurship was vital to any dynamic economy, and could unlock the talent and energy of South Africans to produce wealth, Patel said. There was a need to bring more small businesses into the country’s manufacturing, agro-processing, mining services, tourism and services, infrastructure support, and green economy sectors, Patel said. After meeting with Patel on Monday, the agency’s board, chaired by Sizeka Rensburg, agreed to set up a dashboard to track the progress of the agency. Willie Fourie is the agency’s acting chief executive. Rensburg said the agency would also help small businesses to take advantage of infrastructure projects by linking up with the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission. Sefa’s products include bridging finance, revolving loans, asset finance, working capital and term loans. The agency will also provide wholesale microfinance facilities to financial institutions – following on the practice of Samaf – and microfinance of up to R100 000 will be available to micro enterprises. Source: BuaNewslast_img read more

Geocaching Connects Son to Father Lost in World War II

first_imgPavel and Renka, “TwiceRaP” and Steve Christensen “Coach Steve”A grassy field outside a Czech Republic village is sacred ground to geocacher Steve Christensen (“Coach Steve“).  The field remains nearly unchanged since an American bomber, carrying a crew of young airmen, crashed here in 1945. Coach Steve’s father piloted the plane. The B-17 was shot from the sky during the final months of World War II. Lt. Donald Christensen was killed in action, along with all but one of his crew.Coach Steve was born four months after the crash. He never met his father. His journey to discover his father’s story, visit the crash site and meet the local Czech people who call his father a hero took decades. It also took a little help from Czech geocachers.Steve grew up knowing little about his dad. He says, “Our mother remarried when I was four and because of the hurt of losing her first husband in the war, and not wanting to inject the old memories into a new relationship, I was never told much. Only that he was a pilot and was killed in the war. He was declared missing in action on March 2, 1945. That’s my mother’s birthday, and I was born on June 12.  I never knew my father, except by photos and what I have learned on my own and with some help from my brother.”Steve and his brother began to research their father over the internet in 2004. Steve says, “We found the 398th bomb group memorial site and found the mission he was on when he died and some very short eyewitness reports from other pilots… The first picture that came up was a picture of the crash with some German soldiers standing by it.  We could see a power line in the background and made note of that location in case we ever got there. The next picture that came up was of the memorial [to his father’s B-17 crew] in a little town called Slany. We were floored. We knew nothing about it.”Christensen crash site – notice the power lineBoth Steve and his brother traveled to Slany months after the discovery. But last year Steve was tempted to return to the Czech Republic. He would discover more than ever before, including remnants from the crash site. He says, “This last year was a big celebration at the memorial and an air show.”Steve, who started geocaching in 2003, searched for geocaches around Slany. He discovered a geocache called, “Pad americke letajici pevnosti B-17/Crash of B-17 (GC1M2ZX).”Lt. Ron ChristensenThe puzzle cache was hidden in 2009 by geocachers Pavel and Renka. Their geocaching username is TwiceRaP. Pavel is a retired Czech military officer. He says he created the cache to pay tribute to the sacrifices of military personnel and their families. The site of the crash is not far from his home.Pavel writes, “The whole family knows how hard the military life is and what it can bring along. Therefore we were very touched by the story of the American bomber crew that had happened close to our home. Even then it was very strong for us and close to our hearts.”Soon after creating the geocache, Pavel received an email from Coach Steve. Steve asked about the location and the geocache dedicated to the downed B-17. An email exchange started between the two men, who never met, didn’t share the same native language but did share geocaching. Pavel and Steve exchanged several more emails.Not long after, Steve arrived for the memorial service in the Czech Republic. To his surprise, a retired Czech military officer in full-dress uniform and his wife stood waiting for him. It was Pavel and Renko.Steve says, “That is were I met TwiceRap, two very nice people who had put a cache at the memorial.  He was there in uniform and she is just a stunningly beautiful woman.  They were very kind to me, and helped me find the cache.  I doubt I could have found it on my own because it was a mystery cache written in Czech.  We had emailed back and forth, but I had no idea they were going to be there in person.”Recent picture of the crash site over looking SlanyThe coordinates from TwiceRap’s cache brought Coach Steve nearly on top of the crash site. More than 60 years after the B-17 went down, Steve found a tangible connection to his father. He says, “One of our Czech friends took us out in the field where we thought the crash site was (the power line that showed up in the original photo is  still there) and we started to cast around with the metal detector.  Then I remembered the coords from TwiceRap’s cache and it took us to where we started to find small parts of the wreckage after 65 years.  We got a whole bag full of pieces.  Pretty exciting.”Steve taking VIP flight during the airshowPavel says he never expected their geocache would help connect a son to his fallen father. Pavel writes, “A thread leading through all this began on the fatal day of March 2, 1945, continued with the team TwiceRaP and ended up with the living geocacher Coach Steve, living in U.S.A., who found our cache about his own father.”Pavel wrote a blog post in his native Czech language about placing the cache and meeting Steve titled, “Not All Who Wander are Lost…” The post, translated in English, begins, “If it was not for geocaching, I would have never been able to tell you this story.”Steve had brought his nephew along to witness the occasion. Pavel met them both. He says, “Meeting with Steve has multiplied everything even more. Me and my wife were very proud that we had created this cache, that Steve contacted us from the U.S.A., that he came and that we could participate together in the ceremony, where we honored the fallen bomber crew in the presence of the son and grandson of the pilot. It is hard to describe these moments, but geocaching contributed to this meeting that has remained engraved in our hearts. Steve became the most important guest of both the memorial and the following air show.”Steve and his nephew at the memorial siteSteve’s been back in the United States awhile now. But the memory of the trip hasn’t faded, “I tell the story to any of my family who will listen. Some of my kids and grand kids show some interest, but I think it will mean more later.”Now after a lifetime without his father, when asked if he’s ever met him Steve says, “Only in my head and in my dreams. Since all the research we have done, I feel like I know him.” Share with your Friends:More SharePrint RelatedTerezin Games Mega-EventJune 6, 2014In “Community”Underground — Geocache of the WeekFebruary 7, 2018In “Community”May the Geocacher of the Month Be With You: Comment NowJune 14, 2014In “Community”last_img read more

Karun Chandhok: Winning Formula

first_imgFor this Chennai born race-car driver, the need for speed is a family passion. A passion Karun Chandhok inherited in his early days as he saw his father Vicky, also a professional racer in the 1980s, compete and a passion that led him to win the Formula Asia championship in,For this Chennai born race-car driver, the need for speed is a family passion. A passion Karun Chandhok inherited in his early days as he saw his father Vicky, also a professional racer in the 1980s, compete and a passion that led him to win the Formula Asia championship in 2001 when he was just 17. Eight years later, he is raring to go and is part of the Hispanic Racing F1 team for 2010 where he will partner the Brazilian Bruno Senna.The Journey Being crowned the Asian Formula Renault V6 champion in 2006, with seven wins and nine pole positions, over the next three seasons. He competed in the Grand Prix 2 (GP2) series in 2007-08, winning a race in each year. Finishing 18th in the GP2 standings, after clinching the third place at the British event, Chandhok is one of the world’s most promising speedsters.The Mission “It’s been the same since I was three years old, to win the Grand Prix for India,” he says.The Challenge Lack of financial support. “There’s money only for cricket and cricketers. There is no support for any other sport or sportsperson in our country. We neither have the infrastructure nor the funding,” says a disgruntled Chandhok. But he hopes the situation will change once the F1 track in Greater Noida becomes operational next year.The Mentor His father, as he grew up watching him race. But besides him, it is his team that mentors him he says, as they teach him how to walk the fine line between being professional and commercially viable by structuring his life.advertisementby Gunjeet Sralast_img read more