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Entrepreneurship was taken to a new level in Ivory Park, near Midrand, in the City of Johannesburg’s Region A when Executive Mayor Cllr Parks Tau unveiled the first Jozi Micro Park on Tuesday July 12.
An initiative of the City in partnership with the University of Johannesburg, the Jozi Micro Park is a unique model that uses old shipping containers to create a business incubator where small township businesses can sell their products and services. A number of local entrepreneurs have taken occupancy of the micro mall, a result of the R50-million Jozi My Beginning Community Innovation Fund, which is part of the City’s Jozi@Work empowerment and creation programme.

Speaking during the opening of the micro mall, which was punctuated by ululations and the clapping of hands, Mayor Tau said the City’s focus was to maximise benefits for entrepreneurs to deal with unemployment.

“Research suggests that it is creating SMEs that will help us deal with unemployment,” Mayor Tau said.

He appealed to the entrepreneurs and the community at large to make the micro mall a success as they were the concept’s pioneers. He said he was hopeful the number of containers would increase to 20 over the next three months.

The Mayor also handed out land-use letters to five beneficiaries, effectively giving them ownership of the business site. Viola Pakade, one of the beneficiaries, was beside herself with joy after she received her letter. She plans to sell ice-cream once she has fully acquired space to trade in the mall.

“I’ll also be baking birthday cakes here. I’m really over the moon for what has happened today. We’ve been suffering for a long time. This has come as a huge relief to us,” said Pakade.

Another beneficiary, Benjamin Rapetswa, has been operating from the Midrand Taxi Rank, where he runs a tyre and motor spares shop, for a number of years.

“This is great for me and my kids. I grew up under apartheid. We never saw these things happening,” said Rapetswa.

Ward councillor Petrus Zitha was instrumental in making sure the entrepreneurs’ dreams were realised.

“On behalf of all these beneficiaries, I want to thank all those who gave us support,” said Cllr Zitha.