South Africa: Promoting green jobs through small and medium scale enterprise development

The Free State SME Development Initiative seeks to create decent job opportunities through small and medium sized enterprise (SME) development.

The Free State SME Development Initiative (2011-2014) is a broad-based wealth creation initiative to promote decent work as a policy priority of the Government of South Africa and the Provincial Government of the Free State Province and one of the strategic means to pursue this policy goal is the creation of decent employment opportunities through small and medium-scale enterprises (SME).

The initiative is implemented in the Free State Province, South Africa within two district municipalities (Mangaung Metro Municipality and Matjhabeng Local Municipality) and seeks to strengthen the capacity of Free State Provincial Government and its stakeholders in the private sector and civil society to make these policy priorities actionable, by implementing a range of initiatives in support of SME development. It is designed along a systemic approach that acknowledges the inter-linkages between the various stakeholder groups and correspondingly advocates a multi-level intervention mix. The project intervention strategy was drawn up in close consultation with ILO constituents and other SME stakeholders, both at national and provincial level.

The overall project objective is to create decent employment opportunities for historically disadvantaged population groups in Free State Province. The overall project outcome is sustainable community-based small businesses that have created at least 5,000 decent jobs. The project is based on a systemic approach for sustainable enterprise development focusing on strengthening a culture of entrepreneurship, improvement of the business environment and development of demand driven BDS in priority sectors.

These sectors are agribusiness, construction, social economy/social enterprise development, tourism and waste recycling. In terms of waste recycling, the project has been supporting the private and public initiative "The Clean and Green Free State Campaign" to create awareness on waste management in the Province for two years. A recently published booklet on the campaign provides a description on the sort of activities that have been implemented since its inception in 2010. Besides, support is also being provided to the development of an Integrated Waste Management Plan for Manguang Metro Municipality.

Besides, the project just launched its second annual comprehensive business competition to stimulate entrepreneurship and innovation in these sectors. Forty three winners and runners-up have benefitted from both financial and non-financials prizes in the 2013 enterPRIZE Job Creation Challenge. Cash prizes of 5.5 million were allocated as well as a number of non-financial prizes. By creating 14 categories the completion has allowed for the benefits to be spread amongst a large number of enterprises in the province. For instance, the enterPRIZE challenge has given grants and supported to three buy back centres of which one is a big cooperative consisting of 208 members. For information on the project’s support to entrepreneurship education, see: