The South African Black Entrepreneurs Forum (SABEF) Brings Entrepreneurial Development Tools To TownshipsThe South African Black Entrepreneurs Forum (SABEF) held the Gauteng Township Economy Business (GTEB) Week and Funding Convention for four full days at the Soweto Theatre in June.
The GTEB is an initiative by SABEF a non-profit organization that has dedicated most of its programmes towards building and developing the township economy, its businesses and entrepreneurs.
The event was filled with officials and entrepreneurs from different sectors, sharing detailed information about offerings that township entrepreneurs can use to uplift and grow their businesses.
President of the forum Lebo Gunguluza says they decided to do this initiative because they understood that the biggest challenge does not lie in the suburbs or the areas where the other people who are well placed in society are. “The biggest challenge lies in the township that’s where there are no resources, that where there is lack of information filtering through, that’s where the entrepreneurs are struggling to access capital and all sorts of forms of economic activity. We thought that should then be the priority for South Africa.
We were very excited when Gauteng came with that agenda to really focus on the township economy and also for SABEF as it was something that we started 15 years ago and that has always been our focus. Because that was always the agenda, to focus on entrepreneurs that are struggling the most, because when we started the organisation as entrepreneurs we started we said these are our challenges but we saw that there are challenges bigger way beyond us we then said that’s the agenda of the organisation.”
The GTEB event was built on a number of pillars. “We wanted the enterprise mangers who are given budgets to support entrepreneurship in South Africa to come to the township, them being in Sandton does not make sense because you cant take it for granted that an entrepreneur from the township will always go to Sandton. So we wanted to ensure that those guys come and set up offices in townships and that’s why we had to have them have a conversation with provincial and local government to share their challenges as township entrepreneurs so that government can strengthen their position to help these SMME’s.
Gracing the event with her presence was Minister of Small Business Development Lindiwe Zulu who echoed the importance of events such as GTEB. Stating that “this event is important because its time we empowered people in the townships and to ensure that we improve the infrastructure of the townships so that the people that are given this opportunity can have a better place to operate from because one of the challenges they are ”.
Minister further urged that private sector should make more means into helping previously disadvantaged entrepreneurs because through public and private partnerships we would be able to assist as government and private sector up scaling the support they give to small medium enterprises.
“Private sector is slowly getting there… through initiatives such as these, I saw standard bank and a whole lot of others are here. I think we have to engage with them, it is very unfortunate that we have to keep on pushing and pushing when in my view I think it should have been an automatic thing for them to understand if we are to develop South Africa from and economic point of view, we need to address the imbalances of the past because the majority of people you see here are people who have never had the opportunity, people who have to start from scratch and they have to be in competition with people who have been in this space for a very long time”.
The event was attended by a large base of enterprise development companies, agencies and incubators and various government procurement representatives and supply chain officials from state entities to unpack ways small businesses can effectively comply with the necessary requirements when applying for government tenders.
This initiative is set to be one an active response towards the Gauteng government’s efforts in advancing the township economy. SABEF in partnership with Gauteng Enterprise Propeller are training and developing entrepreneurs throughout Gauteng though a programme developed two years ago called Kasi to Kasi Entrepreneurship development.