Small Business Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu has lauded the City of Johannesburg for its "bold and innovative economic strategies" aimed at boosting small business and entrepreneurial opportunities.
Minister Zulu was speaking at the 23rd edition of the Southern African International Trade Exhibition (SAITEX) at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand on Monday June 20.
“Johannesburg’s bold strategy to establish a food manufacturing and agricultural hub is one in a line of highly commendable strategic economic enablers aimed at giving small business and entrepreneurs the support they need,” she said during a panel discussion under the theme: "Joburg’s Export Competitiveness and Polish Market Access."
The three-day conference, which started on Sunday June 21, brought together key stakeholders from several sectors for Africa’s largest international trade exhibition for off-the-shelf retail products.
Speaking at the same conference, Cllr Willie van der Schyf, the City's Chairman of the Section 79 Committee on Economic Development, said relations and agreements between the City, the Department of Trade and Industry and the Polish government had seen increased trade in the agriculture and food manufacturing sector.
In 2014, exports from Poland to South Africa amounted to $776-million, while export of goods - including wine, vegetables, fruit, granite and furniture from South Africa to Poland - amounted to$236-million.
“We aim to increase these amounts and further relations with other markets. The City is extending its hand to engage with us to build our economy, which will in turn set a precedent that radical economic change can be effected. "Outward-bound engagements are critical for key idea and knowledge exchange. We are a city of entrepreneurs and by using innovation we can only move forward,” said Cllr Van der Schyf.
As key SAITEX supporting partners, the City and other exhibitors generated business worth over R800-million last year, with SAITEX generating R79-million worth of business. Reginald Pholo, Director of Trade and Investment in the the City's Department of Economic Development, said the City had embarked on a drive to increase its export base and the rand value of value-added export of goods and services in line with the elasticity of supply and demand.
The City's Executive Director of Economic Development, Ravi Naidoo, said this year Johannesburg was using SAITEX to promote its small business opportunities. He said the City had invited start-ups from two sector innovation programmes – the CoJ Green City Start-up and #Hack.Jozi - to attend and showcase their offerings.
“We look forward to working with all businesses to promote international trade and the positive impact they can make in the Johannesburg economy. The City, through its Department of Economic Development, has initiated a small business support programme, including five Jozi SME Hubs (to increase to seven this year). In the past 12 months almost 8 500 SMEs were supported at these hubs, with 3 600 new businesses in poor communities being assisted with registration.
"All businesses - big and small - play an important role in contributing to economic growth and job creation,” added Naidoo.