Over 180 entrepreneurs within the City of Joburg’s Region G converged at the Finetown Multipurpose Centre for the seventh and final Entrepreneurship Ecosystem symposium on Monday.
Welcoming them, Region G’s Regional Director, Mickey Padiachee, urged them to be more enterprising.
“The days of expecting things to be done for you are long gone. Sometimes entrepreneurs don’t get off the starting blocks because they are waiting for funding. Now is the time to actively seek opportunities,” said Padiachee.
After a two-year dialogue with the region’s entrepreneurs, Padiachee said the City was able to identify some stumbling blocks: Entrepreneurs have business ideas but no concrete plans to bring them to fruition and there is a lack of information around economic opportunities because local newspapers don’t carry tender bulletins.
Padiachee said the City was firmly behind the empowerment of women and the youth, especially in manufacturing and agriculture as the region could be turned into the bread basket of Joburg. He also said the region was exploring how the Poortje-based SME Hub could be turned into a mobile hub so that it reached more people.
It was the turn of Makhozana Mbatha to inspire the audience about her hits and misses in her business journey. She currently employs 24 people and delivers 45 000 cases for bottling company ABI every month.
“I took over my husband’s thriving logistics company and ran it into the ground. We had to sell all his trucks that used to supply Eskom with coal so that we could pay our debtors and I started from scratch. I didn’t wake up today with a successful business. I just need you to know that I also failed, but I dusted myself up, sought advice from successful people in the industry and firmly believed in my business idea. Now I’m able to give back to society and plan to open a butchery soon because as entrepreneurs, we always need to diversify,” said Mbatha to applause.
One of the entrepreneurs, Boitumelo Kgatle who said she owned a lifestyle company, urged City officials to make information more easily available. “I heard very late about this symposium. Please ensure the right information reaches the right people. Use walk-in centres, print pamphlets and spread the word and also make internet connectivity available in our area,” she said.
Another entrepreneur urged the City to look into establishing an agriculture college in Region G so that the abundant arable land did not lie idle.
Collen Masango from the City of Johannesburg’s Economic Development Department said the seven regional symposia will culminate in a historic two-day symposium at the Joburg Theatre from 24-25 October 2017.
“Through your active participation, the City of Johannesburg wants to craft an entrepreneurs’ blueprint so that you can have a share in the business the City does out its budget of R54-billion for goods and services.
“The City is also rolling out more SME Hubs across the seven regions as part of ensuring that it achieves 5% economic growth in five years,” Masango said.