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Townships can become viable economic hubs, says Thami Mazwai. The annual small business conference in Soweto will look at ways to get there.
SMALL businesses in Soweto will be the focus of an international conference taking place at the University of Johannesburg Soweto Campus on 13 and 14 April.


Oupa MonarengMMC for economic development Oupa Monareng will address the conferenceThe International Soweto Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development Conference has been organised by the Centre for Small Business Development (CSBD) on campus. It is the second of the annual conferences.

“The conference enhances the understanding of entrepreneurship and small business development,” says the CSBD’s director, Thami Mazwai. “It also plays a crucial role in stimulating research collaborations and networking within African countries and the rest of the world.”

“Enhancing skills and value-add in township economies” is the theme of this year’s symposium, which aims to stimulate innovation and knowledge creation for township entrepreneurs.

“Entrepreneurs’ innovation is an essential ingredient in economic growth. The entrepreneur always searches for change, responds to it and exploits it as an opportunity,” Mazwai explains.

“Cultivating a culture of entrepreneurship in our young people, especially those from historically disadvantaged backgrounds, guarantees a sustainable, stable and wealth-creating society, one in which we can take our place in the global village as creators of value and wealth in our own right.”

Over 500 delegates from all over the world will attend the conference to discuss the challenges and opportunities faced by entrepreneurs and small business owners. Speakers will include the member of Joburg’s mayoral committee for economic development, Oupa Monareng; the Gauteng MEC for economic development and planning, Qedani Mahlangu; and the chief executive officer of the Indian company, National Small Industries Corporation, HP Kumar.

The annual conference was started as a way of trying to combat the problems historically faced by townships in terms of employment prospects. South African townships were created on the basis of racial segregation, and there is still a widespread legacy of poverty in these areas.

Mazwai and the CSBD believe, however, that it is possible to turn these regions into viable economic hubs that can contribute to socio-economic development, and the conference serves to establish how best this can be done.

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