Helping kasi businesses get their groove back

Co-founder of Makhaza Lifestyle clothing brand and Udaba Pop Culture, Siyabulela Sophi, was amongst key guest speakers.

Township businesses that have survived the impact of Covid-19 and the lockdown now face the arduous task of rebuilding, but one organisation says it plans to help them do just that.

Business owners spoke about the highs and lows of being their own bosses at the Mayambela Foundation’s first annual township economy conference, at False Bay College in Khayelithsa on Saturday.

The foundation is spearheaded by Mark Mayambela, a professional footballer who hails from the streets of Litha Park in Khayelitsha.

Representatives from The Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA) were among the guests at the three-hour conference.

It was a chance for township entrepreneurs to share their experiences and advice on best practices and lessons learned.

Khwezi Mayambela, one of the foundation’s executive members, said they had studied the impact of the lockdown on small businesses, especially those in the township, and it was clear that many businesses owners had suffered dire financial losses and been left demotivated. He hoped the conference would be the first step in helping them revive their entrepreneurial spirit.

“This is not a talk shop,“ he said. ”We will do follow-ups with these businesses that are here just to see what kind of help do they need. We want to see small businesses grow beyond their expectations.

“Our aim is to uplift Khayelitsha. We want to see money circulating around Khayelitsha among ourselves. We are glad that this room is filled with young people. We want these local entrepreneurs to mingle with each other and network.”

It took courage and perseverance to start a business and keep it going, he said, but doing something you were passionate about gave you the courage to keep going.

Abraham Oliver, False Bay College’s entrepreneurship programme manager, said the old adage, “you need money to make money”, proved a hurdle for many emerging businesses. Those who found a way to finance their businesses then faced the next hurdle: finding clients.

“Access to information and marketing play a huge role in crippling emerging business,“ he said. ”Entrepreneurship is a journey. For entrepreneurs to succeed, we need to create a conducive environment.“

Siyabulela Sophi, the co-founder of Makhaza Lifestyle, a clothing brand, and Udaba Pop Culture, was one of the guest speakers. He said the conference was a good opportunity to network and share ideas. What he had learnt about others businesses at the conference would help to build his own, he said.

Seda provincial manager Alex Thandikhaya Qunta said such events helped the agency inform the public about its services and how to access them.