Conversation with a so-called SME investment company:
Me: Hi Investment Exec. You’re listed as one of the investment companies providing funding in line with President Cyril Ramaphosa’s SME initiative. Can you please provide info about your funding options?
Investment Exec (IE): Good morning (doesn’t bother to use my name). Thanks for contacting us. Are you a tech start-up?
IE: So you’re not the next Snapchat?
IE: Do you have revenue in excess of R20-million?
IE: So you’re not a tech start-up and you’re looking for funding?
IE: Sorry for you, we’re not interested in anything other than big-ticket tech start-ups, but feel free to contact us when you hit the R20-million mark because we might want a slice of the pie then.
Conversation with a logistics company, or a retail merchandiser, or any large company associated with providing services to retail suppliers and small businesses:
Me: Hi Service Provider. I’m a retail supplier and would like to know more about your service offering.
SP: Good morning Sukasha. We’re so happy to receive your email. We provide all the relevant services. I’m going to send you our company profile, our product PDF, our CEO’s bio, our LinkedIn page for you to follow and our rates. Looking forward to doing business with you!
Me: Wonderful. I read through everything and I’m interested. What’s next?
SP: How much are you going to be spending with us annually?
Me: That’s difficult to say. We’re a small start-up.
SP: (Audible gasp) Did you say small and start-up?
Me: (Feeling like I’ve ordered steak at a vegan get-together) Yes.
SP: Oh no. We don’t take on small start-ups.
Me: But you offer all the services I really need. How much do I need to spend to be considered?
SP: A minimum of R500,000 per month.
Me: (Swearing in Hindi)
SP: Excuse me?
Me: Sorry, I dropped my phone. Thanks for the info. Cheers.
Conversation with business journalist friends, bean-counter relatives, economic opinionistas:
Them: You know what this country needs? More entrepreneurs, that’s what!
Them: I mean, that’s where the jobs are being created.
Them: They’re the lifeblood of the economy, the real innovators with the potential to turn this country around.
Them: You know, I support small business whenever I can, so I don’t know why so many of them fail.
Them: Funding is a real problem, though, isn’t it? Or is it? You know, if these SME owners just work hard, they’ll make it. Everyone is just lining up to help them.
Them: There are so many of these small business initiatives now. It must be so easy to get financing, or to partner with big businesses, or to find service providers, particularly if you’re a person of colour and a woman.