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Nomsa Ntsele and Nompumelelo Nyembe were among more than 350 people who attended a Jozi@Work briefing and registration session in Doornkop Extension 2 in Region C on Wednesday.
The two young women want to establish a six-member cooperative and are convinced that Johannesburg Executive Mayor Mpho Parks Tau’s ground-breaking empowerment and job-creation initiative provides the right platform to launch their business careers.

The briefings, now in their last phase, have seen thousands of Johannesburg residents flocking to various venues across the city to learn more about the programme and how to register their entities.
Ntsela and Nyembe, whose cooperative will offer security and information technology skills training, among other things, came prepared.

Armed with all the required documents, the two sat through the briefing session and listened attentively as Dumisani Hlatshwayo of The Business Place, a private sector SMME development agency that helps the City with the Jozi@Work registration process, explained why Johannesburg needed to boost small enterprises.

He told the gathering that the mayor’s commitment to empowerment meant that people had to meet him halfway for the programme to succeed.

Said an excited Ntsela, a former IT intern in the Department of Housing: “We’re very passionate about this. We want to do this to improve the economy of our area and create jobs for others. The information we got was very useful. We are determined to make this work.” Also at the briefing session was Desmond Thomas, a partner in Thomas & Prior Transport and Logistics.
“This [Jozi@Work programme) is a fantastic idea. By empowering so many people the City is opening up opportunities for us to be involved in growing the economy. This programme will uplift whole communities,” he said.

Hlatshwayo said Jozi@Work was the city’s response to poverty, inequality and unemployment which, according to a study, stood at 800 000 in 2011 in Johannesburg. “The number of unemployed has probably gone up since then. Jozi@Work is in response to this scourge. It is now up to you to establish SMMEs and cooperatives in your communities. The strategy is to inculcate the spirit of entrepreneurship,” Hlatshwayo.

The unique programme already has more than 2 000 registered companies. The City hopes to register between 4 000 and 5 000 companies by the time the registration drive winds up early in December.
The City aims to create 12 329 job opportunities in the 2014-2015 financial year and almost 39 000 in the 2016-17 financial year in sectors such as greening, agri-processing, information communication and technology, digital services, energy and construction, and maintenance and repairs of infrastructure.

More than R1 billion has been set aside for the programme in the current financial year. This will 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 businesses grow beyond the programme and do business with customers other than the City.​