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Get ready for Saiba’s 25 city roadshow to help get SA working again

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Saiba is about to kick off one of the most ambitious programmes in its history: a 25-city-and-town roadshow aimed at bringing accountants, local business leaders and local civic leaders together.

The purpose: to get business going at the local level, using Saiba’s accounting skills to create thriving local economies.

Saiba is asking its members to commit 20,000 hours of volunteer assistance, which – at an average rate of R1,500 an hour – works out at a community contribution of R30 million.

The roadshow kicks off in July (details and venues will be published in Accounting Weekly in the coming week) with a virtual Practice Management Conference for Saiba’s more than 9,000 members. The roadshow kicks off in with a virtual stop in Tshwane, to be followed by stops in all the major cities and towns around the country.

“We have to get South Africa back to work,” explains Saiba CEO Nicolaas van Wyk. “The impact of Covid on our communities and small businesses has been devastating and we need to put our heads together to find ways to revive failing businesses, help entrepreneurs start new ones and help existing businesses reach the next level.”

Van Wyk adds that accountants are a vital and often unacknowledged flywheel in the local economy.

“Accountants are custodians of tremendous knowhow and insight. We need to tap into this insight and build stronger networks at a local level to help get the economy back on its feet – but we have to do this at the local level. A number of studies point to the importance of small businesses as creators of employment. We need to be putting more focus on the small business sector if we want to tackle our critical unemployment levels.”

One of the driving forces behind the Saiba Roadshow is the District Development Model, which emanates from the White Paper on Local Government of 1998.

The purpose of the District Development Model is spelt out by the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA): “The District Development Model builds on the White Paper on Local Government (1998), which seeks to ensure that ‘local government is capacitated and transformed to play a developmental role’. The White Paper says developmental local government ‘is local government committed to working with citizens and groups within the community to find sustainable ways to meet their social, economic and material needs and improve the quality of their lives’”.

Van Wyk says Saiba is reaching out to mayors and senior civic leaders in all the towns and cities to be visited by Saiba, as well as interested groups such as the SA Local Government Association (Salga) and the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda). The aim is to bring together a coalition of like-minded individuals and groups to assist in the economic revitalisation of the economy at a local level, drawing on the accounting skills of Saiba members to achieve two objectives:

  1. Improve accounting systems and controls at municipal level
  2. Provide mentoring, coaching and compliance support for SMEs at a local level.

With local government elections due to take place later this year, van Wyk says far more attention must be placed on activities at the local level. “We need more business activity and entrepreneurship at the local level. There are many activities and services that can be provided locally, and we want to connect local businesses with their municipalities and their established businesses. Accountants can and must play a pivotal role in this economic revitalisation, as they have the knowledge of business, regulations and compliance requirements. We believe this will make a huge contribution to restoring economic health to the country,” says van Wyk.