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With the registration drive for Jozi@Work programme beginning to draw to a close, Johannesburg residents are flocking to its briefing and registration venues in bigger numbers to learn how they could improve the quality of their lives.

On Monday 17 November, more than 800 people – many of them youths – packed the Dlamini Community Hall in Region G, Soweto, to gain more knowledge on how they could access the host of opportunities the City of Johannesburg’s mass empowerment and job-creation initiative brings with it.

Under the programme, the first of its kind in South Africa, ordinary Johannesburg residents will be able to provide a variety of services to the City, including refuse removal, street cleaning, repairs and maintenance, construction, grass-cutting, landscaping and garden services.

Already, more than 2 000 cooperatives and small businesses have been legally registered for this mayoral initiative since the registration process started several weeks ago.

“We have to leave a legacy of prosperity for our children,” Dumisani Hlatshwayo of The Business Place, a private sector SMME development agency assisting the City with the programme’s registration drive, told the gathering in Dlamini.

Boitumelo Ramushu, a 26-year-old accountant, was one of the people who attended the briefing and registration session to register her seven-member cooperative, Sterlicrete, launched about four months ago. “I’ve been to several of these briefings and have learnt a lot,” she said.

Her colleagues – four young men and three women – have qualifications in business, finance and construction. Their cooperative specialises in making paving bricks, for now.

“Most of our customers are walk-ins. We are already supplying a local hardware store with paving bricks,” said Ramashu, who qualified as an accountant in 2009 and worked briefly for a company.
“But that was not what I wanted to do. My heart was in business. [Going into business] is the way to go for young people. Yes, it’s daunting but it can be done,” Ramushu said.
Young Nicholas Zozo Majokana was there on what he called “a fact-finding mission”.

“Many township businesses fail because we don’t have information. This session was very useful. I am going to encourage a friend of mine to come with me so we can register a company. We need to create our own jobs instead of waiting for the government to do everything for us,” said Majokana.

With the programme, the City aims to create 12 329 job opportunities in the 2014-2015 financial year and almost 39 000 in 2016-2017.

Johannesburg Executive Mayor, Councillor Mpho Parks Tau has committed R1 billion to the programme in the current financial year. The budget is projected to increase to almost R4-billion in 2016-2017.
For every work package assigned through Jozi@Work, cooperatives and small companies doing the work with the City will be backed by a Capability Support Agency (CSA), which will handle all invoicing and payments, make sure that the work is done properly and enable them to rent equipment and buy raw materials.

The CSA will also over a year or two provide training, give advice, offer support and enable access to low-cost loans to ensure the business grow beyond the programme and do business with customers other than the City.

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