Turning street trade on its head

Entrepreneurs listen attentively.

The Philippi Economic Development Initiative (PEDI) has embarked on a mission of turning informal businesses operating at Ngulube Drive into a thriving urban business hub so that they could grow their businesses.

A number of informal businesses such as car mechanical repairs, wielding and others operates at Ngulube Drive.

However, PEDI has conducted a massive research in an effort of finding best ways of how to optimise the structures at Ngulube Drive with the hope to stimulate economic development within the area of Philippi.

The organisation started their research last year in November and concluded it tow months ago in an effort to understand some of the key challenges facing these businesses and how could they improved them.

Last week Friday, the organisation presented their research findings to various stakeholders including representatives from the City of Cape Town.

They wanted these stakeholders to thoroughly peruse their findings, raise their views,concerns and put up suggestions.

Chief operating officer of PEDI, Thomas Swana, said the aim of this initiative is to recognised the informal businesses as part of the economy and empower them with necessary tools to continue doing business.

He said in their research they discovered that these structures which are being used by these businesses at Ngulube Drive were dilapidated and not even properly managed.

In their research, he said they recommended that these structure either be demolished or upgraded so that they could be in a standard that is acceptable for businesses to operate in.

Mr Swana said the stakeholders had agreed that every structure in that precinct be demolished and start everything from scratch.

He said they have took all the research information that they had gathered from the traders and everyone they have interviewed during their research process and translated it into this design of creating a business hub space.

He said part of their resolutions was to built hives and corridors in that space. He explains to build hives alone they would roughly cost about R40 million and for corridors it was more.

He believes that the rebuilding of new structures would create opportunities for retailer shops, offices to rent and other business ventures.

Mr Swana said there is a vibrant economy that is informal but it could be formalised and be improvised to work effectively for the traders and community. But he said this could only happen if the infrastructure such as roads, side walks and drainage system are all designed and improved in a such way that incorporates what is already there.

He said through their interventions that they wanted to embrace informal businesses and find ways of improving and make it work from the infrastructure perspective.

“The entire research process took about nine months. The objective from now is to go the national treasury and City department to find a way of funding. Our preferred way is to rebuild these sites. Our aim is how to optimised the land at our disposals to accommodate the community in way that creates new business and new jobs opportunities particularly for the youth. We have to create an environment where people could work and live at the same place,” he said.

Mr Swana said they strategic objective is economic development.

Sub council chair he said they were very excited to see this programme and it has been coming along. Sub council 13 chairperson, Rhoda-Ann Bazier, said it was important that they have the buy in of the community because they cant do anything without their approval.

She said Philippi has been neglected hence they are feeling that this project is important as it aims to boost local economy.

Ms Bazier said she hopes that the project would bring job opportunities and investors would start looking Philippi as a potential place to invest.