Different stakeholders hold business brainstorming

Groups were given tasks to complete.

After a 24-hour brainstorming session where ideas to uplift the Khayelitsha community were shared, local business people say they expect a shift in the way residents and investors think about the area.

Different stakeholders including government, civic organisations, business people, police, crime experts and residents held a marathon session, called a hackathon, to find better ways of running their lives and dealing with their challenges, at the Look Out Hill, on Friday August 19.

City of Cape Town and the SA Innovation Summit also took part in the session with people from different communities in attendance.

Participants were also assisted by the Cape Craft and Design Institute mentors and facilitators who gave them insight on issues that have to be addressed in the community.

Under the theme, Smart Communities, those gathered started with a workshop to identify the challenges faced by residents and businesses. Teams were formed and given topics to discuss. The teams were challenged to solve the most pressing needs of communities. Among others they dealt with the issue of crime, poor service delivery and the plight of the elderly.

One of the organisers of the hackathon, business development consultant and Let’s Talk director Chris Vermeulen, said Smart Communities meant smart infrastructure, smart people, safety and an involvement of residents on the issues that affected them.

He said they have decided to look at issues such as safety and security, water and sanitation, healthcare, and education.

“We want people to be able to own their streets, report potholes, crime and many other challenges. We have looked at different issues like fighting crime, service delivery, how can we empower the communities, better quality of life for the elderly and what can we do to upgrade informal settlements,” he said.

Mr Vermeulen commended residents for taking up the challenge. “This is about them, their innovative thinking and how they can solve their challenges. Their involvement is really appreciated,” he said.

Resident and businesswoman, Deane Skenjana, who took part in the event, said there were many challenges facing not only business people but ordinary people too. She said one of those was crime. “We are facing all sorts of problems including slow business. I believe crime is the cause and a main contributor to people not coming to do business with us here.

“Another contributor is unemployment. I came here to learn and be part of the solution,” said Ms Skenjana.

She lamented the lack of unity among the communities. She called on people to unite to be able to deal with issues of service delivery.

Khayelitsha Business Forum chairperson, Victor Marawu, said the hackathon was an eye-opener for many.

He said it will change people’s perceptions about the area.

“This came from nowhere and not the way we know hackathon to be. But we are happy it will develop communities. As KBF, our new vision is to shift the way we think and how we do things.

“We expect the same from investors and residents. We want to be investor-friendly. We want to professionalise business in Khayelitsha. We want ethical conduct and compliance.

That will help us create employment but most importantly, we want to create business schools of excellence in Khayelitsha,” he said.

Mr Marawu admitted crime was a challenge but they were going to stand up against it. He said his organisation is against stoppages of projects.

Spokesperson for the City of Cape Town, Priya Reddy, said:“The City is striving to elevate Cape Town as an IT incubator and we are more than happy to be driving initiatives such as these to enhance community development through different channels,” she said .

The chairperson of the SA Innovation Summit, Dr Audrey Vehaeghe said with this hackathon, they would like to see the communities involved realise increased prosperity and the amplification of the collective voice to increase the impact they have in the region.