A 300 million rand fund has been launched to support businesses in the green technology and energy sector.
This initiative was developed by risk financiers, Business Partners, with a focus on small medium enterprises.
Nazeem Martin, MD of Business Partners, said the motivation for this investment is not merely a function of goodwill for SMEs and the environment, however more so “ we are doing it because we see an amazing business opportunity for small businesses and for large businesses and also financiers of all of these businesses.”
According to Martin, financiers need to rally behind the green economy to ensure that the environment is not destroyed any further. “Where we are utilising resources be they minerals or energy, we should use less of it,” he said.
Martin has dubbed the rise of the green economy as “Ecopreneurship”. The fund will be available to start-up companies as well as those setting their sights on expansion as long as the business practice is environmentally friendly.
Martin provided an example of the companies already funded by Business Partners, “One was a provider and supplier of solar panels as an alternative energy source to utilising Eskom, which uses primarily coal. So here we are funding a business that is primarily looking at harnessing the sun and in so doing providing energy to homes.”
He further cited that another business on its books takes used oil from restaurants and converts it into bio-diesel. “That is a lot friendlier than utilising diesel.”
“In the world of risk and finance, it is much more important to provide much more than just money,” said Martin speaking to the support structures that will be provided to these businesses. Entrepreneurs will be provided with a database of mentors, people who are experts not only in business but in the green space, he said.
The first R50 000 of technical support provided will be in the form of a loan, except it will be at a 0 per cent interest rate, said Martin in motivation of the support provided.
“We are looking to create jobs in an area that has great potential.”