Entrepreneurs meet

JP Smith and Janine Myburgh, of the Cape Chamber of Commerce.

The Athlone, Khayelitsha and Mitchell’s Plain Chapters of the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry hosted the deputy mayor, Ian Neilson, and mayoral committee members of the City of Cape Town to iron out issues affecting small businesses.

This annual event was hosted at the Athlone Stadium on Thursday November 2. Called the City Meets Cape Flats Business Symposium, the aim was to create an opportunity for small businesses to convey their concerns and challenges to the City.

Mr Neilson, as well as JP Smith, the mayoral committee member for safety and security, social services; Brett Herron, mayoral committee member for transport and urban development; Siyabulela Mamkeli, mayoral committee member for area central; and Eddie Andrews, mayoral committee member for area south each did a presentation, before the businesses fielded their questions.

The presentations highlighted the past, present and future development initiatives on the Cape Flats.

Achmat Jacobs, the chairperson of the Athlone and Cape Flats Chapter of the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said initiatives like the symposium are important, as many of the small business owners are “not exposed to the City’s protocols and red tape”.

“With the symposium, we try to open the channel between local businesses and the City. Last year, we sent a list of questions to the City officials beforehand, and when they did their presentations, they would then also come prepared with their answers. This year we did not send the questions beforehand, and instead we fielded questions around current affairs, like the water shortages. We wanted to know what the City is doing about it and how businesses can help. Mr Smith was invited because safety and security for businesses is also an important matter. Questions were also asked around the broader development within the City and how the changes there might affect businesses,” Mr Jacobs said.

Mr Jacobs said one of the small business owners’ contentions involved the awarding of tenders.

“When it comes to the tender processes, the big corporates are always given the contract, and the small businesses become sub-contractors. However, the sub-contractors end up doing all the work in any case. We want local businesses to become the contractors, and not sub-contractors. We have also found that when it comes to certain developments, it seems only the bigger businesses get to know about it. We want more transparency around this, so that small businesses are also informed about it. The good thing about the symposium was that it allowed us to exchange contact numbers with the City officials, and they have given us the assurance of an open door policy,” Mr Jacobs said.