The lack of funding and access to information were among the challenges raised by emerging and aspiring business owners in Khayelitsha and the surrounding areas when New Life Communication Company held its annual business and career expo, at the Mew Way Hall, on Thursday May 26.
The expo provided informal businesses owners with an opportunity to engage and interact with different stakeholders on how to develop and grow their businesses.
Scores of business owners, residents and pupils attended the expo and among those present to offer guidance and advice were representatives of the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), Small Enterprise Finance Agency (SEFA), Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA) and the Western Cape Department of Health.
Event co-ordinator Nathi Sishuba said there were many businesses in the townships that had the potential to grow, but due to the lack of proper advice and guidance they were unable to expand.
He said the expo was aimed at helping businesses owners to penetrate the market and that New Life hosted workshops throughout the country to assist other informal businesses who were grappling with similar challenges.
“Informal businesses contribute a lot to the economy, but they need proper guidance in order to fully reach their potential.
“We aim to uplift them by bringing stakeholders to their doorsteps. We want to inculcate a culture of doing things for themselves because they have the potential to run their own businesses.
“No one else understands their market better than they do, so we felt that it was apt to start an initiative like this.
“We have seen that some businesses owners were frustrated due to lack of support and we want to empower them and rekindle their passion.
“We aim to create a linkage between them and government entities that would support their businesses” he said.
Mr Sishuba said their mission was to uplift the businesses at grassroots level.
The expo was aimed at black township businesses as they were the ones which were in dire need of this critical intervention, he said, adding that they had first held the event last year and had received massive support from the community.
“Last year we roughly had about 600 people who attended the event and we are aiming to double that number if not triple it.
“We also do a follow-up with the entities we have invited to check how many people requested help from them after the event or how many applied for funding from the them,” he said.
Nothembiso Skenjana, who owns a sewing and beading business, praised the efforts of the expo organisers, saying when she first attended the event last year she hadn’t even had an email address – nor had she seen the importance of having one – but after receiving advice at the expo, she now believed otherwise.
“SEDA is currently assisting me with better ways of expanding my business and I have met them through the expo.
“Funding had always been a challenge and getting a space to operate my business at first was also problematic but I soldiered on.
“This expo has been helpful to my business,” she said.
Viola Nhose, administrative regional officer at SEDA, said they provide funding to all kinds of businesses – if they are registered and have a viable business plan.
“Our funding starts from R50 000 to R5 million.
“What we require is that you are the major shareholder of the company and a business plan, and a tax certificate from the African Revenue Services (SARS),” she said.