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​Co-ops unleashed into business arena

Co-operatives in Johannesburg were on Wednesday October 26 provided with vital information at a Co-operatives Forum on how they could build their businesses and put them on a growth trajectory.

The forum, which was held at the Metro Centre in Braamfontein, is an initiative of the City’s Department of Economic Development.

Four government agencies – Gauteng Treasury, Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA), Co-operative Banks Development Agency and the Road Traffic Infringement Agency – made presentations at the workshop.

They all emphasised the significance of registering on the supply chain management databases of various government departments, state-owned entities, private-sector companies and other organisations. They also stressed the importance of creating proper structures within co-operatives and seeking external support as key to success.

Avuyile Tene, of the Gauteng Treasury’s Supply Chain Management, spoke at length about his unit – Supplier Development. Tene said entrepreneurs needed to ensure that their businesses were properly registered on the Treasury’s central supplier database. This, he said, was important to those wishing to do business with the government.

“When registering on the database, select commodities or the industry you want to do business in. We encourage co-operatives to register their businesses as this enables them to trade legally. Sessions such as this are crucial because this is where businesspeople are empowered with knowledge and information,” said Tene.

SEDA’s Dali Ramncwana said his agency provided capacity building for entrepreneurs.

“We want to be seen as a centre of excellence in developing businesses. SEDA helps with training, business plans and technical skills. We train co-operatives after an assessment has been done on their businesses. Our interest really is supporting sustainability of co-operatives.”

Tebogo Tshabalala, who was representing the Co-operative Banks Development Agency in the National Treasury, focused on the setting up of co-operative financial institutions (CFIs). She told the audience that CFIs operated like commercial banks.

“The only difference is that members can transact. R100 000 in share capital is needed to start a co-operative bank. The cash comes from the savings of its members.

“It doesn’t have to be big amounts of savings. The same funds are used to give out loans. The board of directors must propose products to be offered. It’s important for members to have a common bond,” she said.

Tshabalala said the National Treasury’s objective was to see co-operative banks developed into fully fledged financial institutions.

Siyabonga Qwabe, Project Manager of the Road Infringement Agency, spoke about the Enterprise Development Unit at the agency. Qwabe said instead of setting up offices nationwide, the agency had decided to use entrepreneurs and co-operatives to convey vital transport-related messages to motorists.