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​​The City of Johannesburg’s Member of the Mayoral Committee for Economic Department, Cllr Leah Knott, has called on the Johannesburg Business Forum (JBF) to change its focus to help narrow the inequality gap and accelerate economic growth in the city.

MMC Knott was speaking at a meeting to draft a framework for the re-launch of the forum.

The meeting was held at the Joburg Theatre in Braamfontein last week.

The JBF was established several years ago to serve as a link between the municipality’s various departments and organised business associations operating in Johannesburg.

Knott said sustainable business relationships had since been built through the forum, creating opportunities for the business community to meet City representatives – from senior officials to political leadership – to discuss issues of mutual interest.

“The JBF is also a platform for businesses to raise matters that impact on the city’s economic growth and also assist in finding solutions and addressing such matters,” Cllr Knott said. 

“Various business chambers from within the City are represented but it is not indicative of the business community as a whole. Individuals representing different business formations and interest groups also participate in JBF and plenary meetings are supposed to have been held on a monthly basis.”

“Experienced businesspeople should work together with smaller, emerging companies and entrepreneurs in the creation of wealth in a united Johannesburg,” she said. “This will ensure a more united front in terms of investment into areas and reduce the miscommunication currently being experienced in various communities”.

“Calling for a more focussed departure within the forum is not an attack on its being, it is done with the intention of reducing the gap between various sectors and communities within our economy as well as the development of various types of businesses by giving them the ability to function independently and enabling the private sector as well as the City to thrive across all levels.”

Cllr Knott said the primary role of her department was to facilitate economic growth and transformation by collaborating with other departments, municipal-owned entities, other spheres of government and the private sector.

“The desired outcome of these endeavours is accelerated, shared and sustainable growth,” she said.

She added that in pursuit of its mandate, the department worked with individual and corporate citizens and groups within the community “to find sustainable ways to meet the social, economic and material needs in order to improve the quality of life of residents and to make the City a more attractive trade and investment destination”.

She said the City was looking forward to working with the various interest groups within the JBF to realise the true impact that the forum is capable of achieving.