The Jozi SME Hub, a City of Johannesburg flagship programme, should tap into supply chains to create more opportunities for small businesses, Johannesburg Executive Mayor Cllr Parks Tau said on Wednesday July 6.
The Mayor was speaking during a tour of the hub in Marshalltown in the Johannesburg CBD. He was accompanied on the tour by four Members of the Mayoral Committee –Cllrs Nonceba Molwele (Health and Social Development), Chris Vondo (Community Development), Roslyn Greeff (Development Planning) and Ruby Mathang (Economic Development).
“We have to rethink how we maximise opportunities. This includes upscaling in a massive way,” the Mayor said. Cllr pointed out that tapping into supply chains would create jobs. “We are keen to bring the provincial government and national government here to talk about breaking down the value chains to create more small enterprises. We need institutions that are geared towards radical economic transformation. I do think there is great potential to make a huge impact,” he added.
A joint project with The Business Place, the Jozi SME Hub is aimed at empowering entrepreneurs and individuals starting or running their own businesses.
The hub, with walk-in centres in downtown Johannesburg, Soweto, Alexandra, Poortjie and Diepsloot, has experienced rapid growth in recent time. The Soweto walk-in centre, situated in the Empowerment Zone in Diepkloof, is the busiest of them all.
Another walk-in centre is to be opened in Roodepoort soon.
Jozi SME Hub CEO Shaun Govender told the entourage that more than 35 000 people walked through the doors of the centres during the past financial year. Of these, about 11 000 had business ideas that staff helped them with. “It’s a flexible, non-intimidating setup. No idea is too small,” Govender said.
One of the business consultants told the mayor: “We build on ideas and motivate people. We don’t only offer advice but we also do site visits and follow-ups. We also get feedback from the people we help.”
Ravi Naidoo, Executive Director in the City’s Economic Development Department, said because of the high demand, more incubation space was needed. “You could easily fill 30 buildings. At least that’s the plan for the next few years,” Naidoo said.
Both Mayor Tau and Cllr Mathang were impressed with the services the hub provides and agreed that bringing other partners would go a long way in helping to develop small businesses.
The service include provision of business information and training workshops on planning, financial literacy, marketing, taxation and funding.