Building capacity in the SMME sector

Business Skills for South Africa


The Business Skills for South Africa Foundation (BSSA) is a non-profit, educational trust established in 1994 by PwC and the National Industrial Chamber (NIC). BSSA’s primary activity is the transfer of business skills.


In 1991, senior partners of PwC recognised a need to transfer useful business skills to owner-managers of SMMEs, and based on the British Skills Seminar Programme in the United Kingdom, BSSA was born. PwC approached NIC, the manufacturing sector of NAFCOC, to be the founding partner of BSSA, bringing with it an intimate knowledge of the SMME market. The BSSA Foundation was formally established as a non-profit trust early in 1994.

BSSA’s focus was initially on SMMEs that were already in business, with a belief that these existing operations would improve their operations and, in growing, create viable job opportunities. This view has been substantiated over the years, although the need to also support those wishing to start businesses of their own remains important. BSSA thus trains both start-ups and entrepreneurs aiming to grow their businesses.

Over time, new market opportunities have led to an expansion of BSSA’s clients and products, e.g. the training of professionals supporting SMMEs, such as business advisers and mentors. In addition to BSSA’s Core Programme for business owner-managers, skills transfer programmes focusing on these business advisers/mentors were developed and adapted, e.g. the Build a Better Business (BBB) programme and PROCESS (developed with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)).

A more recent development has been the request to train staff of various types of business support institutions. BSSA has also, sometimes in partnership with other institutions, developed training programmes focusing on expressed needs of SMMEs, such as tendering and franchising. The specific challenges facing SMMEs in the manufacturing sector resulted in the development of the ProNet programme for manufacturers (developed with GIZ).

For a complete list of BSSA’s products and services, click here.


To be recognised as a professional business skills training organisation contributing to the establishment of new, and the growth of existing SMMEs, especially those from historically disadvantaged communities.


To provide systematic and formal business skills training and education for the benefit and enhancement of the full range of SMMEs across all economic sectors in South Africa, and to create sustainable jobs and increase wealth through the transfer of practical business skills.

Provider accreditation

BSSA is accredited by the Services SETA (Accreditation No 0166). Most of BSSA’s programmes are unit standard aligned and accredited by SAQA.

BEE support

In keeping with legislative requirements, BSSA is compliant with the relevant black economic empowerment (BEE) criteria, and is a level 4 contributor.

In addition, BSSA offers services aimed at assisting organisations to maximise their BBBEE score. These include finding qualifying clients, providing relevant training courses and post-training support, and assistance with the development of public/private partnerships through the identification of emerging businesses.

BSSA’s impact

BSSA measures its impact through a range of performance indicators and periodically through formal outcomes assessment. Formal impact assessments were undertaken in 1996, 2003 and 2005.

Of the businesses interviewed for the 1996 assessment:

  • 73% increased sales
  • 68% increased net profits
  • 38% increased the number of employees
  • 49% increased wages for employees
  • 96% implemented something they learned during the course
  • 80% reported that BSSA training changed their life in some positive way

The 2005 assessment, conducted by the then Upstart Business Strategies (UBS), concluded that the level of satisfaction with all aspects of the BSSA training programmes was very high. The assessment further noted that:

"Trainees predominantly measure the success of the training in meeting their training objectives through the financial performance of the business post-training. Key areas of focus include increased patronage, turnover and improved profit margins. The majority of respondents indicated that the BSSA training did enable them to achieve their objectives for attending the training by way of enabling them to improve the overall financial performance of the business."

To date, more than 40 000 SMME participants have completed modules of the BSSA programme for owner-managers, and 2 000 advisers and professional staff have participated in business adviser training.

Upcoming Courses

Want to be a business adviser?

If your goal is to become a business adviser and support professional, BSSA has just the right programme for you.

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Enterprise Development

Claim your points

Enterprise development is one of the seven elements of Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) and carries 15 points on the BBBEE score card. Offering training to small enterprises has been BSSA’s core business since 1992.

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