Empowering small businesses

Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel talks to small and aspiring business owners, above, who attended the Small Business Imbizo at Lookout Hill, Khayelitsha, on Friday September 28.

Small business owners raised their frustrations and concerns when the Department of Economic Development held a Small Business Imbizo at Lookout Hill, Khayelitsha, on Friday September 28.

At the event, business people from Mitchell’s Plain, Khayelitsha and surrounding areas were empowered with critical business information and also used the opportunity to raise their concerns about challenges which hindered the growth of their
businesses.

Common complaints centred on difficulties around interacting with government departments and poor service delivery from these departments.

Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel said the main aim of the workshop was to give a platform to small business owners to share their concerns – and hopefully have them resolved.

He said they wanted to bring opportunities right to their doorsteps so that they could improve their businesses. Mr Patel said small businesses were contributing immensely to economic growth and job creation.

“We want small business to grow. We want to shape this industry of small businesses. We need to work as a unit. We want to have all these seminars in the province but due to huge demand we are unable to do so,” he said.

Co-owner of Xolile Guest House in Langa, Nomonde Mayekiso,complained that some of the demands made on township guest houses were unreasonable.

For example, she said, colour schemes or decor were sometimes dictated to them so that they were similar to hotels, but that, she felt, detracted from their authenticity as township businesses.

Nonetheless, she said, she understood that there was a standard that needed to be set and maintained. “We want township business to grow. We need all the necessary support and tools. Small businesses have the potentially to grow only if their owners could be empowered,” she said.