The Sector-Specific Assistance Scheme by the DTI

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The Sector-Specific Assistance Scheme (SSAS) is a reimbursable cost-sharing incentive scheme whereby financial support is granted to organisations supporting the development of industry sectors and those contributing to the growth of South African exports.

Organisations supported under the Sector-Specific Assistance Scheme include Export Councils, Joint Action Groups, Industry Associations and those involved in activities aimed at the development of emerging exporters.

Objectives of the Sector-Specific Assistance Scheme:

Sector-Specific Assistance Scheme

  • Developing an industry sector as a whole;
  • Developing new export markets;
  • Stimulating job creation;
  • Broadening the export base;
  • Proposing solutions to factors inhabiting export growth; and
  • Promoting broader participation of black-owned and SMME’s to the economy.

Nature of Projects:

  • A project is a task with a pre-determined outcome, a defined or short-term time frame and measurable milestones.
  • The project must be essentially developmental or promotional in nature.
  • The project should benefit the sector as a whole in terms of the SSAS objectives.
  • SSAS funding of non-profit business organisations in sectors and sub-sectors of industry prioritised by the DTI.

Any research / studies undertaken or databases obtained will become the property of the DTI.

Components of the Sector-Specific Assistance Scheme:

  • Generic Funding (administered by Trade and Investment South Africa (TISA));
  • Project Funding (administered by Incentive Development and Administration Division (IDAD); and
  • Project Funding for Emerging Exporters (administered by IDAD)

The Sector-Specific Assistance Scheme Provides Generic Funding (TISA)

The applicant is required to complete SSAS Form A and submit the form to the Export Council Secretariat.

Applications to form Export Councils, an Industry Association, and / or a Joint Action Group must be submitted to the Export Council Secretariat sub-unit of the Export Development. Applicants are obliged to consult with the corresponding Sector Desk of the DTI before submitting applications. Existing registered Industry Associations also need to go through a formal process of registration for recognition as a partner of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

The DTI reserves the right to approve / reject all applications and to determine the percentage that will apply in respect of contributions to project funding.

The adjudication committee may make recommendations regarding your application, which will be communicated to you by the relevant Sector Desk, and re-submitted by the Export Council Secretariat to the SSAS adjudication committee once the recommendations are complied with.

Once the project is approved, a Letter of Approval for Funding under the Sector Specific Assistance Scheme will be forwarded to applicants.

Sector-Specific Assistance Scheme Upfront payments are not allowed. Successful applicants must make all necessary payments and subsequently submit claims to the Export Council Secretariat. All payments take place against an invoice and proof of payment, except for payments in respect of Matching Grant Based on Membership Income that takes place against proof of income. In respect of Project Funding, claimants may either claim according to budgeted amounts in respect of milestones achieved on a project, or otherwise on completion of the entire project. Any deviations / variances require a written explanation from the applicant.

A clear cost breakdown structure must be provided.

In terms of the DTI’s procurement regulations, any funds being paid to a third party service provider, whether directly or indirectly, must be allocated in terms of a fair and transparent process, using a system of three quotes. The procurement of services above the amount of R500, 000 must go out on open tender. Legal agreements between the DTI and applicants may be entered into to ensure good governance.

For funding that relates to travel and freight costs, applicants must utilise the DTI’s preferred service providers.

The Sector-Specific Assistance Scheme Provides Project Funding (IDAD)

Qualifying sectors include:

  • Aerospace, Rail, and Marine;
  • Agro-processing;
  • Automotive;
  • Business Process Outsourcing Services;
  • Capital Equipment and Allied Services;
  • Chemical Allied Industries;
  • Creative Industries;
  • Electro-technical;
  • Film Production;
  • Metals and Allied Industries;
  • Pre-qualified ICT Services;
  • Pre-qualified Tourism Services, only for investment services, excluding real estate agents;
  • Textile and Clothing.

Qualifying Expenditure

  • Export development costs such as market research, consultancy fees, and other expenses;
  • Export promotion costs such as consultancy fees and other expenses;
  • Product development costs such as consultancy fees and other expenses;
  • Company development costs such as consultancy fees and expenses towards installing or improving Quality Management Systems;
  • Service development such as consultancy fees and other expenses; and
  • Advertising and publicity (international).

The applicant who receives funding from the DTI cannot apply for funding / financial assistance schemes, neither from the DTI nor from any government (national, provincial, or municipal, or its agencies).

Non-Eligible Expenditure

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  • Acquisition of assets of a capital or working capital in nature to be used in the production process;
  • Activities under Generic Funding;
  • Any activity that is partially supported by another government scheme and quas-government;
  • Employment of staff;
  • Foreign VAT;
  • Magazine subscription;
  • Motor vehicle fuel when renting a car;
  • Routine and administrative activities of the applicant’s organisations are not considered projects;
  • South African VAT; and
  • Travel insurance.

Applications Procedure

All application forms are submitted to the EMIA Application Section.

Submit the application form two months prior to the commencement of the project.

Claims Procedure

No late claims will be considered for payments.

The claimant will receive a letter of acknowledgement within 4 working days.

Extensions should be requested in writing to the Senior Manager before the termination date and when approved, will be granted for a period of 3 months from the termination date. Claims not received after the extension will be automatically cancelled.

Project Monitoring

Commitments made by the DTI to fund projects that have not commenced within 3 months of the stated starting date will be withdrawn.

Should the applicant not achieve the project’s stated objectives, the applicant may be required to reimburse the DTI for the amount(s), directly proportional to milestones and outcomes not achieved.

The Sector-Specific Assistance Scheme Funds Emerging Exporters

The purpose is to compensate the costs in respect of the activities aimed at the development of South African emerging exporters.

All benefits will be paid up-front for qualifying individuals or entities, to the approved service providers and will include all qualifying expenditure as approved by the EMIA adjudicating committee such as travel, accommodation, exhibition costs and services, stand construction, brochures, freight-related costs, and any other relevant costs.

An emerging exporter is a business or individual that:

  • Is an SMME owned by person(s) of South African nationality;
  • Has an EMIA qualifying product or service;
  • Has traded locally for at least 12 months;
  • Must have been involved in limited or no exports;

and must further meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • At least 51 % of the business must be owned by black person(s), woman and / or disabled (HDI’s); and
  • The company or individual should have an annual turnover of less than R25 million.

Qualifying Applicants

The qualifying entities qualify as project co-ordinators, and are eligible for assistance:

  • Export Councils;
  • Industry Associations;
  • Provincial Investment and Economic Development Agencies;
  • Business Chambers;
  • Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA);
  • Local Municipalities; and
  • Metropolitan Councils.

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Limitation of Assistance Offered

  • Assistance is limited to entrepreneurs only (expenses relating to staff and consultants are excluded).
  • The entities will participate four times annually in this programme.
  • Focuses on exhibition participation, missions, capacity building, and related projects aimed at supporting the development of emerging exporters.
  • Minimum of 10 to a maximum of 20 entities will be assisted for a particular project.
  • A product must have a local content of at least 35 % to qualify for assistance.
  • All applications for missions must be submitted at least three months prior to the commencement date of the event and those for exhibitions at least 3 months in advance.

Specific Qualifying Criteria

Participating enterprises must:

  • have been in operation for more than 12 months;
  • comply with statutory requirements including registration with SARS for tax clearance certificate, export registration with custom and excise and CIPRO;
  • be participating in a structured export development programme;
  • be an SMME owned by person(s) of South African nationality;
  • have an EMIA qualifying product or service;
  • have traded locally for at least 12 months;
  • have been involved in limited or no exports;

and must further meet at least one of the qualifying criteria:

  • at least 51 % of the business must be owned by black person(s), woman and / or disabled person (HDI’s); or
  • the company or individual should have an annual turnover of less than R25 million.

The project should:

  • be developmental in nature;
  • be in line with the National Export Strategy;
  • be part of a structured export training programme;
  • be supported and formulated by a recognised eligible entity;
  • stimulate the participation of SMME’s and HDI’s: blacks, women, youth, and people living with disabilities; and
  • aim to develop the export market.

Financial Contribution

100 % of the cost to a maximum of R1, 9 million per project on:

  • Local and international air travel;
  • Accommodation: bedding, breakfast and dinner (R 500 voucher per participant);
  • Ground transport;
  • Marketing materials;
  • Transport of samples (freight forwarding costs should exclude the cost of duties on products sold at the exhibition);
  • Exhibition costs;
  • Sector specific interventions and assistance.
  • The following costs will be considered as part of the project:
    • Insurance for the transport of samples;
    • Bank charges;
    • Publicity; and
    • Interpreting fees;

Project co-ordinator and the participants will be jointly and severally liable for costs incurred for non-participation at the event. Any additional costs incurred will be covered by the project co-ordinator.


Sector-Specific Assistance Scheme

  • Subsistence allowance;
  • Visa; and
  • Cost of duties on products sold at the exhibition.

Contact us for more information on how you can access the Sector-Specific Assistance Scheme for your business.