6 November 2012

South Africa: Cooperatives Create Employment, Empower Communities

Pretoria — Cooperatives can be used as a business model to effectively empower communities.

They can create employment and eradicate poverty, says Chief Director of Cooperatives Development at the Department of Trade and Industry, Jeffrey Ndumo.

Ndumo was speaking on Monday at the graduation ceremony for members of the Soweto-based cooperatives who have completed the enterprise development and empowerment training workshop offered by the department last month.

"Cooperatives are established by members of the community with a common purpose after identifying a social, cultural or economic need that will assist them improve their lives.

"Economically, cooperatives are a good and successful model to create employment and eliminate poverty. They are also one of the best ways and means of mobilising the marginalised sections of our society and bring them into the mainstream economy," he said at the event at the Diepkloof Community Hall in Soweto.

Ndumo said that while at the moment the contribution of cooperatives to the country's Gross Domestic Product was minimal, "the future of employment creation in South Africa lies with cooperatives due to their ability to create a captive market."

He added that the training that was offered by the dti to members of cooperatives was in line with the department's mandate to promote entrepreneurship in the country and establishing, supporting and growing cooperatives.

The event was hosted by a member of the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry, Xitlhangoma Mabasa.

Mabasa said he decided to facilitate the training for members of cooperatives in his constituency in order to contribute in reducing the failure rate of small enterprises, including cooperatives.

"I felt it was necessary to assist these entrepreneurs by equipping them with the basic skills and knowledge such as financial management, marketing, business management and human resource management. I reckoned this would go a long way in ensuring that the financial assistance that the government Is ready to plough into small businesses should find the fertile ground as people will be better capacitated about how to utilise it effectively.

"In this way not many small enterprises will fail and they will be able to take their rightful place in the South African economy and contribute in creating more jobs," said Mabasa.

One of the businesspeople who received a certificate, Ntebo Takalo, 53, said the three-day training workshop was beneficial to all the five members of her cooperative, Gauta Ya Letlotlo La Taimane.

"The skills and knowledge we acquired at the workshop has opened our eyes and minds to numerous things we would have not been exposed to had we not attended. These include tendering for projects, running the cooperative like a business, applying for finance, as well as financial and business planning," she said.

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