Mbabane: MTN Foundation Eswatini has presented a E200 000 cheque towards the third session of the MTN-SEDCO Cija Ngebhizinisi radio programme at a launch ceremony held at SEDCO Head Offices, in Mbabane on Thursday.
Making the presentation, Chairperson of the MTN Foundation Eswatini, Busisiwe Simelane said the money will help lift the small businesses during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Simelane heaped praises to the participants of the Cija Ngebhizinisi radio programme which is aired through the Eswatini Broadcasting Service (EBIS), saying the programme has helped equipped the up-coming businesses to high levels.
Simelane stated that the days when people went to school to learn towards doing white collar jobs is slowly ebbing away and with the high rate of unemployment, young people are turning to entrepreneurship. “The rate of unemployment requires young people to change courses and start taking businesses seriously,” said the chairperson.
She said it is very interesting that more and more women are venturing in men-dominated businesses like construction and others and refuse to be held back by their femininity. Simelane encouraged the entrepreneurs to take advantage of the radio programme and get all the skills they can get. “The radio programme will sharpen your skills and you will know where to fill in the gaps in your business,” said Simelane.
In his remarks SEDCO Managing Director, Dorrington Matiwane, said the launch of the third session of the radio programme was testimony to its continued success and the significant impact it has in society, especially the SME sector.
Matiwane mentioned that over the past two seasons, the programme has seen 10 winners getting a total of E100 000 working capital towards their enterprises. “I am happy to say that these businesses employ 30 EmaSwati and have a combined annual turnover of E450 000,” said Matiwane, adding that besides the winners, they have through the MTN-SEDCO partnership provided in-depth training to 45 SME owners who regularly tuned to the programme through its duration.
The MD further stated that a total of 63 000 people were reached through the programme which included 59 000 participants who were reached through Facebook, while 4000 were reached through WhatsApp and call-ins. He said SEDCO recently conducted a survey to establish the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on SMEs in Eswatini and to determined the assistance required to survive the negative ramifications of the containment measures enacted to curb the spread of the virus. A major finding of the survey was that 74 percent of micro businesses reported that they anticipate a 50 percent and above decrease in their annual turnover for the current year.
“Not surprisingly, 29.3 percent of SME owners believe that they will need to review their current business models and adopt new business continuity strategies to assist them in surviving this crisis while 68 percent reported that access to finance has been the major bottleneck during lockdown,” said the SEDCO MD.
Matiwane mentioned that as SEDCO they want to use the radio programme to assist in dealing with some of the business challenges resulting from the current COVID-19 crisis. This year’s programme will include specific lessons on SME business survival strategies during and post COVID-19 lockdown, transitioning to e-commerce and encourage the use of digital media platforms to conduct business in the time of the pandemic and beyond, and lastly occupational health and safety requirements during the COVID-19 period.
The MD thanked EBIS for opening their channel for Cija Ngebhizinisi radio programme, saying through the broad listenership the station enjoys, the programme will reach both the formal and informal SME owners. He also thanked the MTN Foundation for their generous support towards the programme.
He called upon all SME owners to tune in every Friday at 7:30 pm starting on October 16, 2020.