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City Parks boost eight green co-operatives

The fortunes of eight Johannesburg co-operatives changed forever this week when they received R2.8-million worth of equipment thanks to the efforts of Johannesburg City Parks & Zoo’s SMME Development Programme.

The eight co-operatives, which operate in the green and horticultural environment, each received R350 000 worth of equipment from the Department of Small Business Development (DSBD) after Johannesburg City Parks & Zoo (JCP&Z) – the custodians of the City of Johannesburg's green spaces – and Growthties assisted them in putting together their funding proposals.

The co-operatives are Five to Five, Zero Hunger, Bhalisile Environmental, Ward 16 Community Development, Cousins, Modern Dynamic, Clean and Green It and Rise Wise.

The equipment included a one-ton bakkie, ride-on mower, petrol brush cutter, hedge saw, trimmer, personal protective clothing and personal protective equipment. They also received comprehensive training on how to use and maintain the equipment and to generate revenue through leasing and renting, especially during the off-season.

This is the first batch of co-operatives to benefit from JPC&Z’s SMME Development Programme. A further 11 applications for funding have been submitted to the department. Ultimately, the aim is to empower all the 70 co-operatives on JCPZ’s Supply Chain Management database in the same way.

Speaking at the handover ceremony at the Kloofendal Nature Reserve in Roodepoort, JCP&Z Managing Director Bulumko Nelana said the programme was aimed at building the capacity of the co-operatives and providing them with the necessary tools to enable them to tender for work in the public and private sectors.

Nelana said the programme was necessitated by the co-operatives’ lack of equipment to undertake projects in the horticultural environment. This, he said, militated against their endeavours to get work.

He said the programme’s ultimate goal was to meaningfully contribute to pushing back the frontiers of poverty, unemployment and inequality. “The importance and contribution of SMMEs and co-operatives to economic development and employment creation cannot be over-emphasised,” he said.

Nelana said each co-operative would be awarded a six-month contract by JCPZ to undertake grass-cutting, litter-picking, weeding, tree-pruning, edging, sweeping, tree-planting projects and other related services.

Managing Director of Five to Five Co-operative Aubrey Nkuna said: “This is an unbelievable opportunity to take our business to greater heights. There truly is no limit now thanks to JCPZ and DSBD.”

Ismail van Wyk, Co-ordinator of the Langlaagte-based Clean and Green It Cooperative, concurred. “Finance for small businesses is a challenge because without it no advancement can be made,” said Van Wyk.