GEORGE NEWS -The Small Business Forum (SBF) of the Garden Route was announced at a symposium in George on 21 August, on World Entrepreneurship Day.
In his opening address, George Mayor Melvin Naik expressed his support for the work of the SBF, which focuses on a critical area of local economic development.
In a media statement the SBF said Naik noted the efforts of the George Municipality to create an environment for doing business, which sometimes have been hampered by legislation. Nonetheless, he mentioned the importance of the municipality’s preferential procurement policy and the compliance readiness of entrepreneurs in securing contracts to grow the economy.
The symposium chairman, Prof Quinton Johnson represented the SBF and provided the context of the meeting theme, which focused on the state of small and informal business. He said that the SBF would concentrate its efforts on the region, while being connected to the national and international landscape.
Moreover, it would embrace broad-based black economic empowerment, and engage and support entrepreneurs in partnership with government, corporates, chambers and communities. In addition, the SBF would collaborate with all entrepreneurs to better professionalise the industry for optimal growth and development.
Ele Tshikovhi, Airports Company South Africa's (Acsa) general manager of transformation, provided a comprehensive presentation on the BBBEE codes including the challenges and opportunities that exist for entrepreneurs. She expressed concern about the very limited progress that has been made.
Thereafter, the scintillating networking breakfast was followed by a very thorough presentation from George Municipality manager, Trevor Botha. He spoke about the vital role that local governments play in providing the opportunities for small businesses to strengthen the economic environment of the city. He said that there must be a significant government acceleration to cut all red tape, which constrains growth.
Nedbank’s head of Small Business, Francois Fillis was also keen to extend his institution's hand in partnership for progress to help ensure the success of entrepreneurs.
The chairman of the Thembalethu Business Chamber, Richard Shumi, in his speech focused on informal business. He persuasively spoke of the potential of this sector to provide a huge number of job opportunities and the need for it to be supported. This was amplified by a presentation on the entrepreneurial journey of Willie Mahlangu, chief operating officer of Zahara Holdings. Mahlangu provided a very vivid description of the many ups and downs that an entrepreneur encounters, and how he ultimately succeeded in his tourism business and the many lessons learned along the way.
Symposium programme director Morné Pietersen excellently drew the exciting gathering to a close in summarising the discussions and way forward. He thanked the many delegates who attended including the mayor, municipal manager, SBF colleagues, chairmen and deputy chairmen of several business chambers, academics, EdenFM listeners, and especially the entrepreneurs, all of whom expressed a sense of better hope and action for the future.
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