South Africa's Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) signed a memorandum of understanding in Pretoria this week to promote the establishment of business incubators in the country.
The DTI said the parties had also agreed to cooperate in women's economic empowerment by promoting inclusive financing for women, a supplier development programme focusing on the promotion of cooperatives, special economic zones and other economic infrastructure.
The department's deputy director-general, Sipho Zikode, said the vast experience and knowledge that the UNDP brought in these areas would significantly assist South Africa.
He added that South Africa has been in the process of strengthening its small, medium and micro enterprise (SMME) sector.
"We have a world-class incubation system that still needs to be improved," Zikode said in a statement.
"It delights me knowing that we will be drawing guidance and expertise from the experience of the UNDP's global network of offices and experts to provide support in the areas of cooperation covered in this MOU."
'A symbiotic relationship to boost growth'
Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said government was in the throes of implementing various interventions to ensure that small enterprises and big businesses have a symbiotic relationship that will boost the development and growth of the country's SMME sector.
In September this year, Davies launched the DTI's Incubation Support Programme.
The programme aims to develop enterprises that will absorb and upgrade the vast unskilled labour force, develop new technologies and strengthen the country's economy, the DTI said.
This initiative is intended to encourage private sector partnerships and government to foster collaboration between small and big businesses, where big businesses assist SMMEs with skills and technology transfer, supplier development, and creating marketing opportunities for SMMEs.
UNDP resident representative and United Nations resident coordinator, Agostinho Zacarias, thanked the department for its perseverance and persistence in pursuit of the MOU.
"Hopefully sooner rather than later we will begin to reap the rewards of this union," he said.
"Both the DTI and the UNDP would need to upscale existent incubators in the country, and we would need also to formulate a comprehensive strategy to guarantee the success of this initiative."