A group of Mitchell’s Plain business owners and community leaders met to discuss the establishment of the Plein Chamber Primary Cooperative at Lentegeur Sub-council offices last month.
Sean Achim, from Westridge, who volunteered to be the chief executive officer (CEO) of the co-operative to get the ball rolling, said the aim of meeting on Tuesday December 13 had also been to share the direction the sub-council would take on local economic development, and was the first of many networking sessions for local entrepreneurs to meet and develop financially sustainable and fruitful relationships.
Subsequent meetings are due to be held in the third week of every month. The date and time of meetings will be determined by the members.
“At least once a month we will bring a high value guest into the discussion that can give insights to all members on a way to maximise their investment in their businesses,” he said.
Mr Achim said when Mitchell’s Plain businesses stood together, they could speak with a united voice to see change and improve infrastructure to sustain and build the local economy.
He said the co-operative would ensure that every registered member had a professional online presence with the ability to secure orders from their websites.
“We will negotiate with the banks for favourable terms for business loans to our members. We will appoint a mentor to every business that is applying for growth funding and we will ensure that all of our members are taught the fundamentals of financial planning and management,” said Mr Achim.
He said they would create, in partnership with local forums and businesses, opportunities to secure international contracts.
“We will actively find ways to bring American dollars, British pounds and euros into Mitchell’s Plain,” he said.
Mr Achim said it was envisioned that the CEO would generate his or her own salary.
He said the first five major projects included ensuring a reliable, low cost, high speed digital infrastructure, ensuring a professional international presentation of local business on the digital infrastructure, ensuring a small, medium and micro enterprise (SMME) friendly banking and investor environment; providing assistance to local forums and structures to ensure that obstacles to success are removed; and to promote an export culture among local business to ensure revenue that benefits from the weak rand.
The Plainsman contacted the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry which has a Mitchell’s Plain chapter, consisting of four committee members, to find out what the chamber offers local businesses.
The chapter was started in 2005 and represents member businesses in Mitchell’s Plain access to an established network, where registered businesses can meet and engage.
There are similar chapters in Athlone and Khayelitsha.
Sid Peimer, executive director of the chamber, said the Cape Flats was an important part of the Western Cape economy, and one that must not be neglected.
“We basically bring people together and believe that the chamber lives up to its motto: ‘’Where Opportunity Meets’,” he said.
Mr Peimer said the expertise of Mitchell’s Plain residents was substantial, and that the chamber wanted to optimise the opportunities for business in the area.
“We realise there are challenges faced by Mitchell’s Plain businesses, most notably the distance from the central hub of the city and the unacceptably high crime rate. However, if we work together as a community, we can overcome these challenges,” he said.
There are approximately 100 Cape Flats businesses which are members of the chamber.
Mr Peimer said they would be focusing on a concerted member drive in March this year, so that businesses on the Flats represent a greater proportion of their 2 500 members in the Western Cape.
“Belonging to a chamber offers significant benefits, and we want to ensure more businesses in Mitchell’s Plain can begin to experience the benefits of being an active chamber member,” he said.