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Jozi@Work, the City of Johannesburg’s R1,1 billion mass empowerment and job-creation programme, has entered a new phase.

After several weeks of roadshows – during which City officials explained the nuts and bolts of the initiative and how it will assist in tackling unemployment, poverty and inequalities in the city – Johannesburg residents now have the opportunity to register their small businesses and cooperatives in readiness for Jozi@Work.

Entities that have already registered with the relevant statutory authorities do not have to register.

“The registration of cooperates and community based companies is to ensure that they are legally recognised entities that may qualify to be considered for participation in the Jozi@work programme," Jak Koseff, Special Advisor on Priority Projects in the Office of the Executive Mayor, explained.

“The City is collaborating with The Business Place to provide a free registration service following briefing workshops to explain the different types of companies and what they have to submit.”

The Roodepoort Civic Centre was a beehive of activity on Monday and Tuesday when prospective small business owners and leaders of cooperatives turned up in large numbers to register their enterprises so they could to tap into several opportunities the programme presents.

The initiative will see thousands of youth- and women-owned enterprises coming on board to assist the City in its service delivery mandate.

The upshot of the programme is that for the first time, unemployed people will have the chance of earning a decent living by taking over the work that had always been the responsibility of the City. The work includes providing services such as refuse removal, street cleaning, gardening, maintenance and repairs, and landscaping.

The programme is not only aimed at reducing unemployment but also at assisting residents to start and grow their own business enterprises.

“We want people to form cooperatives big enough to undertake the work of the municipality. Although for now we are talking about small business enterprises, the idea is to grow what you’re doing and reach a point where you are a meaningful participant in the economy of the country,” Dumisani Hlatshwayo of The Business Place, an SMME business advisory entity, told the would-be small business owners who had gathered at the Roodepoort Civic Centre on Monday.

Hlatshwayo cautioned against businesses “formed for quick fixes”.

“These people, once they receive their first R1 million, buy expensive cars that will have the effect of draining their resources, leaving no money to run the business,” he said.

Jozi@Work put emphasis on sustainability, Hlatshwayo said.

The programme, described as a means to “lower the barrier of entry to business”, provides aspirant entrepreneurs with seed capital and loans. It also pays for the costs of registering a cooperative. Over and above that, it provides mentoring and training.

The City has also ensured that a support system, in the form of Capability Support Agency, is put in place to assist enterprises with their day-to-day operations to ensure they are successful.