Having been an entrepreneur herself, Ntshavheni might be best suited for her portfolio.
Many who have had interactions with this department have complained about red tape and inaccessibility to those it serves. Despite its promise, the department was not an ally for entrepreneurs. Ntshavheni has promised to change all of this.
But first, she’s had to wade through the politics of Luthuli House.
Ntshavheni has been dogged by reports that she had misappropriated campaign funds during Cyril Ramaphosa’s CR17 ANC presidential campaign. The Sunday Independent reported that she had allegedly used a portion of the more than R5-million from the CR17 campaign funds to buy a luxury vehicle and build a “mansion” in Thohoyandou for her mother. She’s denied the allegations, saying they were “based on malice and devoid of the truth”.
She has been able to shuck off these claims and get on with her job.
In his State of the Nation address, Ramaphosa said small business will be crucial if attempts to alleviate unemployment by government are to be successful. It’s common sense of course. Entrepreneurs need an enabling environment to thrive. But since it was first introduced in 2014, the ministry has yet to show much by way of actual results.
And so it’s not insignificant that at age 42, Ntshavheni is one of the youngest ministers in Ramaphosa’s Cabinet. She is meant to be bringing fresh ideas, and her own experience as an entrepreneur into the ministry.
In her budget vote address in Parliament in July, she committed to improve access to support, both financial and nonfinancial to small, medium and micro enterprises. She’s done that. Or, at the very least, introduced a raft of measures.
In July Ntshavheni also announced that small businesses will have access to a mixture of grants and loans from the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Sefa) through a new blended fund that aims to finance 100 000 young entrepreneurs. The intention is to lower the cost of finance. Sefa has also set new turnaround times in which to approve funding.
These are all steps in the right direction. But there’s still a lot to do to show results.