In order to submit a business visa application, there are two things you need to make sure you have.
The first is funding. Your business needs to insert foreign direct investment equal to ZAR 5 million. For certain business sectors, you can apply for a preliminary waiver, which will approve a lower amount of investment required.
Secondly, your business must boast a 60% local workforce, i.e. 60% of your labour force must be South African.
The DTI does not want to receive Business Plans but has created their own template which requires the applicant to fill out information regarding the business, all in all very much in line with the information you would usually put into a Business Plan.
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A comprehensive business plan is incredibly important in day-to-day business proceedings.
While this is not complusory or even required, you need to effectively convince both the DTI and the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) that your business’s ideas are sound, feasible, and within the best interests of South Africa.
There are a few more things you should consider incorporating into your business plan that will work well in your favour, that include:
- A business description outlining the nature of the business, its growth potential and market placement, etc.
- A description of the business operations including infrastructure, expansions, etc.
- A marketing and sales strategy, and
- The financial statements for your business.
An applicant’s expertise and qualifications play a crucial role in the success of a DTI application. The South African business visa is designed to attract professionals with the necessary skills, expertise, and investments that would contribute well to the country’s economic development.
You must not necessarily have relevant experience in the field of business you intend to pursue, but your experience should convince the DTI that you are able to successfully run a business in South Africa, and showcase your ability to contribute to South Africa’s economy.
Ensuring also that you have the relevant educational background and/or specialised training will greatly assist you with your application.
And finally, if you can showcase the ability of either you or your business to provide skills transfer or training for South African citizens, you will prosper.
When working on your application, it’s important to keep a record of any research you have done into the market you seek to enter. Provide a comprehensive overview of the services you intend to offer, as well as your competitive advantage and the viability of your business venture. This shows a level of thought put into your application that will stand you in good stead with the DTI and DHA.
Your business will aim to provide services or product/s to the country. You need to ensure that you have a clearly defined list of the nature of these services or product/s, their benefits, and how they meet the needs of your target market.
You will also have to explain your target market, as well as the demand you’ve noticed for your specific services or product/s. Having market research to support these claims will work wildly in your favour. This market analysis will showcase your understanding of the South African business environment and highlight any opportunities and challenges that your business can address.
Finally, you need to emphasise what sets apart your business from your competitors in South Africa. Unique solutions, innovative ideas, cost-effective plans, superior customer service, and all other possible advantages that you should outline in your business plan.
Providing proof of your business’s viability and sustainability is incredibly important to the DTI. The authorities need to be instilled with confidence in your ability to establish and operate a successful business in South Africa.
Part of this comes from providing an organisational structure, the other comes from suitable financial projections.
An organisational structure should show how many South African or PR holders you want to employ and in which positions. This can. either be shown with a organisational chart or by listing the proposed positions
Your financial projections are also important, as without this the DTI has no way of knowing whether your business can sustain itself in the South African economy. To break down your financial projections, you need to ensure you have suitable financial statements/projections, such as balance sheets, income statements, and cash flow statements for your (existing or proposed) business.
These documents help to show the financial feasibility of your business.
You also need contingency plans. You need to be able to show that you’ve addressed all the potential risks and challenges and explain to the relevant authorities just how you plan on mitigating these risks.
One last consideration for your DTI application is whether your business can feasibly contribute to the national interest. South Africa’s immigration authorities are always on the lookout for business ventures that can positively impact the country’s economy, create employment opportunities, and contribute to sustainable growth.
Within your business visa application, you will have to present these aspects to the DTI.
There are several factors that contribute to a business’s contribution to the national interest.
Firstly, your business needs to present South African citizens or Permanent Residence holders with job opportunities, and sustainable ones at that. If your business is benefitting the local workforce with transferable skills and training programs then highlight the programs that will implement them. This also refers to any technological and innovation transfers that will benefit local industries.
Your business also needs to articulate how its activities align with South Africa’s economic priorities and growth objectives, whilst also showcasing any investments you plan to make in South Africa. Your financial value needs to be emphasised and cannot be understated.
Your business’s feasibility comes not just from financial statements and analysis, but from compliance policies, and your awareness and commitment to adhere to South Africa’s many laws and regulations.
Make sure that all documents you feel are relevant to supporting the claims you make on your business are concise and accurate, and travel alongside your application.
Your business must contribute to the South African economy, and work well within the business sector.
Presenting a well-researched, feasible, and compelling argument alongside your business plan will successfully highlight your business’s positive impact on South Africa’s interests, as long as you’ve backed up your claims with concrete evidence and relevant recommendations from clients or partners.
Before you submit your documents to the DHA or the DTI, you must ensure that your business falls within the national interest category. If you do not have available or have not already invested ZAR 5 million, applying for a reduction of this amount through the DHA is essential. This waiver application would only take place after you have received a positive DTI application.
Seeing as you will have to deal with more than one government department, work with a six-month processing timeline to make sure before you submit, that you have plenty of time to sift through your application and submit the right information.
Written by Simon Carletti, PR and Creative Supervisor