Property Point gets R5m Department of Small Business Development grant to boost SMEs

By Suren Naidoo

Growthpoint’s ground-breaking Property Point enterprise development programme has secured a R5 million grant from the Department of Small Business Development – in a major boost for the initiative and ultimately small and micro enterprises (SMEs) operating in South Africa’s burgeoning property sector.

The deal was celebrated today by Property Point and the Department of Small Business Development (DSBD) at Open Workspaces at Growthpoint’s 138 West Street property in Sandton Central. As part of the partnership, the department has allocated R5 million in grant funding to Property Point for its Enterprise Incubation Programme (EIP) – a one-year programme for small business development.

Property Point hailed the deal as a “landmark partnership for collective economic growth in South Africa” to develop more small businesses for South Africa’s property sector. It said the “breakthrough initiative” was the “first public-private partnership of its kind” in the property sector. The funding will result in the development 16 small businesses in the property sector, of which two-thirds are youth- and woman-owned.

Property Point is an initiative of Growthpoint Properties, South Africa’s largest primary listed Real Estate Investment Trust and a JSE top 40 Index company.

Shawn Theunissen, head of Property Point and of Corporate Social Responsibility for Growthpoint Properties, said: “Property Point’s objective has always been to contribute to South Africa’s economic growth. Using a best practice model, we have delivered positive results in the property sector for the last decade. Now, our new partnership with government will escalate our impact on transforming the economy at a crucial time when South Africa is dealing with high employment and low economic growth.”

Shawn Theunissen, head of Property Point and of Corporate Social Responsibility at Growthpoint Properties

Property Point has been a driver of transformation and small business growth within the South African property industry since it was founded by Growthpoint in 2008. To date, it has created 2066 jobs and R842 million in procurement opportunities generated for the 130 SMEs that have participated in its two-year incubation programmes. These small businesses have reported 43% growth in revenue.

The partnership with the DSBD comes as President Cyril Ramaphosa has prioritised small business development, to bolster the SA economy. In his State of the Nation address last month, Ramaphosa said: “Ultimately, the growth of our economy will be sustained by small businesses, as is the case in many countries. It is our shared responsibility to grow this vital sector of the economy. We will work with our social partners to build a small business support ecosystem that assists, nourishes and promotes entrepreneurs.”

Property Point said in a statement that its partnership with government would “leverage off Property Point’s deep-rooted success in growing competitive small businesses in the property sector over the last 10 years”. It said the partnership would also expand the programme for bigger impacts on small enterprise development, job creation, economic growth and a more inclusive economy for South Africa.

The country’s recent budget speech also stressed: “Government must create an enabling environment for small businesses to thrive, as they are an important lever to create jobs and grow the economy inclusively. Work is being done to provide crucial funding to innovative small businesses when they need it most. A fund with an allocation of R2.1 billion over the medium term is being developed between the Department of Small Business, Science and Technology and the National Treasury to benefit small and medium enterprises during the early start-up phase – this is an area that has historically had limited support because of the risks involved… Another important constraint for small business is lack of market access and barriers to entry. To resolve this, our competition authorities continue to do the necessary and important work of addressing barriers to entry and rooting out anti-competitive behaviour which slows economic growth and dynamism.”

According to Property Point, for the unique 16-business intake, Property Point’s programme is powerfully market driven. “It will raise the profile of the entrepreneurs and strengthen their competitiveness, with a deep focus on market integration.”

“The programme aims to create market linkages for these small businesses that will see them included in procurement opportunities in the broader property sector, as well as Growthpoint. It is expected to set new benchmarks for small business integration into private sector supply chains,” said Property Point.

Estienne de Klerk, CEO of Growthpoint South Africa, said: “We believe in the principles of social and economic transformation and empowerment on all levels, and we are committed to achieving this. As a hands-on property owner – we own and manage our buildings – we recognise our unique position to develop small businesses to increase their access to market opportunities. We are proud to contribute to this pioneering public-private partnership designed to deliver on South Africa’s transformation, small business, economic growth and job creation objectives.”

Estienne de Klerk, CEO of Growthpoint South Africa

Property Point also collaborates with like-minded businesses and organisations across the sector to achieve the shared goals of building sustainable, competitive, small businesses and a vibrant culture of entrepreneurship and enterprise growth.

It enjoys a well-established and growing partnership with JSE-listed Attacq Limited, the owners of Mall of Africa and master developers behind the Waterfall City mega development in Gauteng. Since 2014, Property Point has tailor-made supplier and enterprise development programmes for Attacq to empower entrepreneurs and link small businesses into Attacq’s supply chain.

Comments Theunissen: “Together, Property Point and its partners in both the public and private sector will continue to make a positive contribution to South Africa’s property sector and play a vital role in stimulating and transforming the economy as a whole.”