How can Small and Medium-sized businesses (SMEs) in South Africa get involved in the Green Economy and the Just Energy Transition? Founder and CEO of Fintech ProfitShare Partners, Andrew Maren, highlights opportunities.

For small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) in South Africa looking to get involved in the Green Economy and the Just Energy Transition, there are several strategies and avenues to consider, including the following:

1. Leveraging local opportunities: South Africa’s push towards a Green Economy opens up various opportunities. At reasonable cost, SMEs can participate in sectors such as renewable energy (solar, wind, hydroelectric power); sustainable agriculture; green building; waste management; and water conservation. By identifying and specialising in niche areas within these sectors, SMEs can establish a strong market presence.

2. Partnerships and networking: Forming partnerships with larger companies engaged in green initiatives can provide SMEs with vital expertise and financial support. Networking with like-minded businesses and joining green business associations can provide valuable insights and opportunities for start-ups and business growth.

3. Green products and service innovation: Developing innovative green products or services that address specific environmental challenges in South Africa can set an SME apart. Note that this requires understanding local environmental issues and consumer needs, so market research will be required.

4. Accessing finance and grants: Various green financing options are currently available, including grants, green bonds and loans specifically aimed at helping businesses who are – or will be – contributing to environmental sustainability. ProfitShare Partners is already supporting SME installers with up to R10 million when they have the contracts with the right type of clients. We will also consider financing your end client for up to five years so that they don’t have to come up with the cash upfront; therefore making you more competitive.

5. Capacity building and training: Investing in training and capacity building for staff in green technologies and practices is key to any success in this sector. This can include training in energy efficiency, waste reduction techniques, and sustainable resource management.

6. Compliance and certification: Adhering to environmental regulations and obtaining green certifications can enhance credibility and marketability, opening up new business opportunities.

7. Sustainable supply chain management: Implementing environmentally friendly practices in supply chain management can reduce one’s carbon footprint and appeal to eco-conscious consumers and business partners.

8. Public sector involvement: Engaging with government initiatives and programs focused on green development can provide SMEs with support and visibility. It’s essential to stay informed about government policies, subsidies and incentives related to the Green Economy, not only for business success financially, but also with regard to working within green rules and regulations.

9. Community engagement and CSR: SMEs can also contribute to the Green Economy through corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives, like community-based environmental projects, which can improve brand image and customer loyalty. Be seen as a leader in the communities and businesses you serve—the payoff can come in the form of more doors opening for your business.

10. International collaboration and markets: Exploring international markets for green products and services, and collaborating with foreign companies on green technology can offer additional growth opportunities. For example, getting the agency for products that can be used to clean water means you can offer the products and set up with little investment for fair returns in a water-scarce country like South Africa. Once you have secured an agency and a contract with a large business for the purchase of these goods, contact ProfitShare Partners for potential access to finance.

By actively participating in the Green Economy, South African SMEs not only contribute to environmental sustainability but can also discover new markets, increase their competitiveness, and enhance their resilience.