SiMODiSA was established in 2014 with the objective of providing entrepreneurial support in South Africa. Their focus is on influencing policy frameworks and empowering start-ups through education, networking opportunities, skills development as well as providing growth opportunities for businesses via their platform.

Matsi Modise is the Managing Director of SiMODiSA and Founding CEO of Furaha Afrika Holdings. After embarking on her career in the banking sector, she found her passion for business, in the SMME development ecosystem. Her fervor lies in building digital and physical entrepreneurial ecosystems. Over the years, SiMODiSA has identified and partnered with new businesses to ensure their products or services are viable in the market they wish to enter and that they are appropriately positioned to grow sustainably. This methodology is based on business models that are scalable and secure long-term business success.

The key to the success of any business lies in its ability to access markets, obtain funding as well as the necessary capabilities or skills requisites they are obliged to have in the sector they operate in. Three key pillars form SiMODiSA’s ethos that provides business support structures for SMMEs or start-ups, namely:

  1. Policy advice and advocacy.
  2. To provide engagement in an interactive environment for businesses within the SiMODiSA platform.
  3. To provide recommendations on growth or funding opportunities for businesses within in their platform.

Women holding their own in business
The SiMODiSA Ecosystem has a mix of both man and woman-owned businesses, the performance of which is driven by leaders that are capable, skilled and determined to succeed. However, a gap remains in the number of women that venture into entrepreneurship. “In my experience, opportunities are afforded to women in business to enable them to become successful. However, the core of what impedes success is a lack of awareness of the opportunities available. Perhaps part of the remedy is women opening themselves up to opportunities in various evolving sectors, like technology,” suggests Modise.

Specific challenges facing women-owned businesses are the additional responsibilities, which are over and above those of running their business. “Many women in our ecosystem who have family responsibilities tend to experience more pressure as they continually try to find the right balance on the demands made on their time. Often, despite their strong capability and potential for success, their productivity is limited. This is especially the case where there is a need to network to promote their business. SiMODiSA helps women balance the demands on their time, so they can adequately focus on building a successful business,” declares Modise.

Policy issues
SiMODiSA focuses on six separate policy areas to improve the prospect of SMMEs succeeding that include:

  1. Intellectual Property (IP) and technology;
  2. Regulatory requirements around exchange controls;
  3. Funding and incentive models for government-led initiatives;
  4. Talent and visa programmes to enable entrepreneurs to source scarce specialist skills outside South Africa to boost their business offering;
  5. Regulations around labour; and
  6. Generating funding for science and technology research and development.

“Our efforts between 2014 and 2017 were largely focussed on influencing government to remove a number of exchange control restrictions. Such restrictions had unintended consequences for South African companies registering their IP in countries like Mauritius, that have fewer government restrictions in this area. Following a number of years lobbying government on this issue, alongside other industry partners, restrictions were adjusted to make this process easier.” She continues, “There are still many other regulatory issues that I believe need addressing through engagement with the government and other stakeholders that will effect change and foster an empowering business environment for SMMEs.

Increased focus on growing the venture capital sector
Venture Capital growth will significantly lead to business success in South Africa. “Currently, Venture Capital Fund Managers largely focus on enterprises with solid revenues. This is, instead of shifting their focus towards seed ideas that could give rise to new sectors with the potential for exponential growth. Most countries with strong SMME representation in their economy have a thriving Venture Capital market. I believe that there is an opportunity for government and the private sector to collaborate to create an effective platform that connects entrepreneurs, funders and venture capitalists to pitch ideas and to turn excellent ideas into reality,” articulates Modise.

SiMODiSA is steadfast in the view that Venture Capital growth in South Africa, combined with supportive policies surrounding technology and intellectual property, will significantly improve the success prospects of SMMEs. “Achieving this would be a ‘feather in the cap’, in terms of catalysing and amplifying entrepreneurship as well as gathering information and identifying shared opportunities through all business platforms,” declares Modise.

The Value of Partnerships
Currently, massive investments are directed towards SMME development. However, only collaboration with role players in the ecosystem will improve economic growth and lead to effective socio-economic change. “There are opportunities for further interactions and partnerships between organisations such as C4G as well as other players in the ecosystem, that will ultimately benefit all,” concludes Modise.