Young people in the Free State are often faced with many stumbling blocks on their journey to start their own business. According to local entrepreneur, Hazel Molotsi, the registration of businesses has become needlessly expensive as agents demand high fees for a service that costs close to nothing.
Molotsi raised this issue during the Proudly South African Business Forum in Bloemfontein, which was an interactive session between local business people and industry stakeholders. “It’s so much easier to register a business in major provinces like Gauteng compared to the Free State. Most people are just not well informed of the options available to them,” she said
“There are offices that are linked to the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) that help with these services but they are not available to help people here. These companies usually have a step-by-step approach that includes registering on a central based data system, making changes to a business and guidance in banking. They do this free of charge,” added Molotsi.
The young woman started an events business and also founded a foundation that assists young people, women and people with disabilities on their entrepreneurial journey. “Agents charge about R850 to register companies and it can cost from R380 to R450 simply to change a company’s address or name. It’s really bad when people don’t have the means for these services and are unaware of their options,” explained Molotsi.
According to CIPC Education Specialist, Shanee Kelly, agents who register businesses are not authorised by the entity, so they cannot be regulated by them. She confirmed that there is a Software Service Provider (SSP) for the purpose of business registration in Bloemfontein.
“Self-education is very important. When someone demands that you pay a certain amount, you can refuse and only pay R175 to do it yourself. It may be difficult the first time you do it but by the second or third year of your business it will be much easier,” she said.
Proudly South African CEO, Eustace Mashimbye, explained that agents are not entirely unfavourable as they fulfil a service that some people are willing to pay for. “It’s an issue of awareness because people are not aware of how easy and cheap it is to register a business. Aspirant business owners need to go to the CIPC, Free State Development Corporation (FDC) or Department of Small Business Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (Destea) and they will assist you to register through self-help portals,” he said.
“The fact that this issue exists means that there is a market for the agents. Entrepreneurship is about identifying a gap and capitalising on it. Who are we to stop people who want to pay for the services of an agent?” disputed Mashimbye. – Nomaqhawe Mtebele