An assessment of the business plan support offered by SEDA to its business clients in the Western Cape
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The Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA) is an organisation that gives various types of business support to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in order to foster their growth. It is widely believed that there can be failure in the performance of SMEs that is partly due to limited provision of business support. This study aims to assess the work of SEDA, in particular the ‘business plan’ support it provides to SMEs. This will assist in establishing factors that hinder, or promote, the growth and success of SMEs.The main objectives of this study were firstly, to assess the perceptions of SEDA’s business clients with regards to the business plan intervention. Secondly, to assess the effectiveness of the SEDA’s business plan intervention, and lastly to identify and recommend other interventions that its clients suggest, that can improve the services it provides to business owners.A review of literature highlighted the continued difficulty that SMEs in South Africa face in accessing finance, and the vital role that support institutions like SEDA can play to not only alleviate the problem, but also strengthen the owners business and entrepreneurial skills. A qualitative case study design was used in this study. Two data collection methods, document analysis and in-depth interviews, were employed. A thematic data analysis was conducted to assess the business plan support activities provided by SEDA.The findings of the study show that, firstly, access to finance remains a challenge for most SMEs. Secondly, the lack of business skills is a key limitation to success among SEDA’s clients and thirdly, the study revealed a communication gap between SEDA and its business clients.The study recommends that SEDA should bridge the communication gap in order to improve the impact of the vital services it offers to existing, and potential clients. The Results of the study may apply, generally, to the development of SMEs in South Africa.