Introduction to The EDSE Programme

The EDSE Programme is a four year, ground-breaking, innovative and multi-dimensional project to effect meaningful change across South Africa’s SMME ecosystem.  Funded by the European Union, the programme aims to improve the operating environment for SMME’s through the application of “Technical Assistance” as well as “Budget Support”, in the form of a Euro 38 million allocation.

A team of over 30 leading SMME technical experts is in place and headquartered within the Department of Small Business Development (DSBD) offices in Pretoria.  Four technical assistance teams support and work primarily with the DSBD, seda, sefa and the Department of Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) to improve strategies, support new pilots, introduce international models and best-practice, scale up successful approaches, support and empower partnering officials, fast-track delivery and focus on reducing red-tape across the delivery system.

The Budget Support package of Euro 38 million has been allocated to 15 projects aimed at addressing critical constraints holding back SMME. The biggest allocation is a 50% contribution to a R1 billion “Fund of Funds” to be housed and managed by sefa, that will allow financial intermediaries to address critical gaps in the market – in terms of enterprise supplier development and innovative financing mechanisms – that target either specific sectors or specific target enterprises.

The balance of the budget support component is targeted at a range of projects across the four partner institutions.  These include projects to improve the agri-food certification and safety system; 4th Industrial Revolution hubs; a one-stop-shop information portal; red-tape reduction initiatives; improving M&E systems; and the introduction of the OECD Policy Index for SMME’s.

The EDSE Programme depends on excellent relationships across the entire eco-system.  Apart from the critical need for strong relationships across each of the partnering institutions and the support of the European Union, the Programme aims to coalesce the entire public-private ecosystem.  Partnering Agreements have been signed with key organisations within the SMME arena.

The EDSE Programme welcomes engagements with organizations active in the SMME ecosystem – make contact with us!

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The EDSE Programme  will facilitate a more cohesive  ecosystem of government and institutional support to create an enabling environment for South Africa’s small enterprises. Its key objectives are to:
» Improve the competitiveness of SMMEs and their ability to meet procurement requirements of large multinational/local corporations and state-owned enterprises
» Improve access to finance for SMMEs who have limited, or no, access to finance
» Improve the regulatory and administrative environment for SMMEs


» Capacity building of DSBD, and other departments, for SMME development and the improvement of administrative and management systems.

» Assistance to initiatives guided by the DSBD, including the development of an SMME National Database, the development of a small business information portal, the roll-out of the National Red Tape Municipal Support Programme and SMME surveys.

» Improving the DSBD’s research capability and management, particularly of its monitoring, evaluation and learning capabilities; the development of strategies such as the “Integrated Strategy for the Promotion of Entrepreneurship and Small Enterprise”; capacity building for Public-Private Dialogues and supporting SMME policy dialogues designed to improve its policy and regulatory capabilities.

» Improving the quality of business development services and developing appropriate standards and quality assurance for support to SMMEs active in targeted value chains in the private and public sectors.

» Improving the township economy ecosystem through pilot projects in three townships and by exploring innovative new approaches to strengthening local economies.

» Supporting inclusive SMME development within the Green Economy.

» Building the capacity of sefa (and its partners) to enhance direct and wholesale lending to SMMEs, and of sefa’s alternative credit information mechanisms.

» Strengthening wholesale lending initiatives between sefa and other financial institutions to allow for increasing access to finance for SMMEs, notably of those with a potential to supply corporate and government value chains.

» Improved policies and analysis to promote the modernisation of co-operatives.

» Agri-business value chain analysis and related business development services for agri-SMMEs, with a strong focus on the improvement of the sanitary and phyto-sanitary (SPS) regime.


The R745 million allocated to budget assistance will be allocated across 15 projects addressing key constraints affecting the optimum functioning of South African SMMEs. The biggest allocation is a 50% contribution to a R1 billion “Fund of Funds”, to be housed and managed by sefa, which will address critical gaps in enterprise supplier development and financing mechanisms that target specific sectors and/or enterprises.

A breakdown of budget support, by our implementing partners:

Department of Small Business Development (DSBD)
  • Comprehensive monitoring and evaluation system (R11,2 million)
  • Longitudinal study (R4,5 million)
  • Policy Benchmarking, OECD (DSBD, R4,6 million)
  • SMME national database  (R12 million)
  • Strengthening red-tape reduction and baseline study (R12 million)

R44.3 million

Seda South Africa
Small Enterprise Development Agency (seda)
  • Enterprise Supplier Development Model (R2,1 million)
  • 4th Industrial Revolution Incubation Hub; township centres (R13,5 million)

R15.6 million

Small Enterprise Finance Agency (sefa)
  • Supplier Development Fund of Funds (R150 million)
  • Innovation Fund (R300 million)

R450 million

Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD)
  • Gap analysis, capacity of agropreneurs (R5,6 million)
  • Certification of agropreneurs (R12,7 million)
  • Value-chain analysis  (R4,5 million)
  • Upskilling of lab technicians (R5,6 million)
  • Support and accreditation of food testing centres (R10,5 million)
  • Livestock ID system (R10,5 million)

R49.4 million


Start/Final dates: 27 Jul 2017 – 24 Jul 2022
Total EU contribution: EUR 52,245,800


Seda South Africa
Eu funded in South Africa