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Joburg in new move to enhance SMMEs support Print E-mail
17 May 2017

In a new bid to aggressively tackle issues affecting entrepreneurs, the City of Johannesburg’s Department of Economic Development will host a citywide entrepreneurship ecosystems symposium in June.

The decision was taken at a meeting by representatives of all the City’s seven regions at the Joburg Theatre in Braamfontein on Monday May 15.

Collen Masango, Director in the Office of Member of the Mayoral Committee for Economic Development Cllr Sharon Peetz, said it was important to engage all the regions to understand what their specific needs were.

“The presence of economic development across the City – from a departmental perspective down to other departments and municipal entities – is completely fragmented. The approach to how SMMEs are supported and how entrepreneurs find expression in the City is also completely fragmented. At times it is almost divergent. We want to create a single entry point for entrepreneurs who want to define a single process that they can follow in order for them to find success in whatever they do,” said Masango.

Entrepreneurship ecosystems, regional economic perspectives and the specific roles of the regions were some of the key issues on the agenda. The symposium sought to get to the bottom of the challenges faced by regions regarding entrepreneurship development.

A City official from Region A told the meeting how political interference affected staff when it came to SMME forums set up in their region. The official said another challenge was that most opportunities available to entrepreneurs were only linked to City projects.

The findings of a study conducted by entrepreneur Tamer Sher titled 2016 Entrepreneurship Research Study: Voices of Entrepreneurs in Johannesburg were tabled at the meeting. The study, conducted among entrepreneurs from a variety of sectors over 15 weeks, looked into issues such as youth entrepreneurship, the future of entrepreneurs in Johannesburg and possible solutions to challenges faced by small businesses.

Among the key themes that came out of the study were interventions that had worked and those that had not worked as well as the role of the government in assisting entrepreneurs. Start-ups identified business training skills as key to success.

One of the biggest issues that came out of the study was the lack of knowledge about existing programmes and which ones were applicable to individual entrepreneurs’ needs. Government participants interviewed for the study felt that the government did not understand the needs of entrepreneurs.

The meeting decided that officials go back to their regions and gather detailed information to be used as input for regional summits. Input from these regional summits would be collated and presented to the citywide Jozi Entrepreneurship Ecosystems Symposium for further dialogue in June.

The exact date and venue of the symposium are still to be determined.

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