R1bn to build township economies

R1bn to build township economiesGauteng Premier David Makhura addresses entrepreneurs in Soweto

The Gauteng government will invest more than R1-billion over the next five years in building and improving infrastructure for township economies, says Premier David Makhura.

Craft vendors in Vilakazi Street, SowetoCraft vendors in Vilakazi Street, SowetoThe government aims to grow Gauteng's economy twofold by 2030, making it a R2-trillion economy, with the province's townships playing a key role, says Gauteng Premier David Makhura.

Addressing the one-day Summit on Township Economic Revitalisation at Orlando Stadium in Soweto on Tuesday, 7 October, Makhura said: "We want 30 percent of the Gauteng economy to be composed of township enterprises."

The summit sought to afford local entrepreneurs, SMMEs and cooperatives the opportunity to contribute towards the province's Township Economic Revitalisation Strategy.

Makhura said the provincial government was looking at seven interventions to help grow township economies

"We want to ensure that there is an appropriate legal and regulatory framework … we need to review some of the laws that don't promote the growth of SMMEs. We want to promote productive activities in the townships; we must produce goods and services in the townships," he said.

Other interventions will include fast-tracking skills development, and assisting entrepreneurs with access to finance, markets and procurement.

Engaging with township entrepreneurs

Over the last three months, the premier said, he had held consultations and participative engagements with township entrepreneurs across the province.

"We visited more than 65 townships in Gauteng and gained insider perspective and first-hand information from more than 50 000 township entrepreneurs about their plans and aspirations."

Among the challenges facing township entrepreneurs were the presence of shopping malls, a procurement system biased against township economies, and heavy-handedness by the Metro Police, who were accused of criminalising informal traders

Makhura noted that spaza shop owners were concerned about cut-throat competition from the foreign nationals who dominated the township spaza shop sector.

"The government has pledged an amount of R60-million in the current financial year to invest in building proper infrastructure for township entrepreneurs to be able to do their business in better conditions."

At the same time, the government would be investing billions of rands in revitalising public transport infrastructure.

Innovation drives businesses: Ramaphosa

Also addressing entrepreneurs at the summit, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa said that innovation drove businesses.

"Innovation is what drives economies. I want you to sit back and think what you can do that is innovative. Winners in any business are those who are innovative, who think out of the box."

The Deputy President encouraged entrepreneurs to learn to read a balance sheet and understand an income statement, and to sharpen their marketing skills, so that they could access markets.

"The township economies must be used a launching pad into the broader economy of our country. You must manufacture goods in the township and sell them in Sandton … You must venture out of the province, venture out of the country … We must launch ourselves like a rocket," he said.

Source: SAnews.gov.za