22 April 2014

South Africa: West Rand Hub Aims to Boost Township Economy

The R26.2-million Mohlakeng Enterprise Hub was opened on Johannesburg's West Rand by Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane last week in an effort to boost entrepreneurship, revitalise the township's economy, foster skills development and reduce unemployment.

The Mohlakeng Enterprise Hub will offer support to small, medium and micro businesses and co-operatives in carpentry, sewing and embroidery, construction and steel works, upholstery, baking and confectionaries.

"This hub demonstrates our commitment to fighting poverty, unemployment and inequality; we are here to create a better life where people live. We can only fight poverty and unemployment when we work together with our people," Mokonyane said at the launch.

The first hub - the Winterveldt Enterprise Hub - was opened in February to build skills among unemployed young people to help them start their own businesses in the automotive industry.

Private sector support

Mokonyane said the Gauteng provincial government had invested R19-million in the Mohlakeng Enterprise Hub. A further R7.2-million would be spent over the next three years to maintain it, she said.

The provincial government has, with the support of the private sector, provided machinery and equipment to the co-operatives operating in the hub as well as allowed them free use of the premises.

The co-operatives were identified through the Gauteng Department of Economic Development and the Gauteng Enterprise Propeller. They have signed a three-year agreement with the provincial government.

Mokonyane told Engineering News that the provincial government planned to establish similar hubs across the province.

"Ideally, in the long term, we would want every established township to have this kind of facility," she said. The next hub to be opened will be in Camdor, also on Johannesburg's West Rand.

Alena Morapedi, a beneficiary of the hub, said she joined a co-operative in 2001 but they did not have funds to continue. "We were very grateful when the government offered us assistance. We were given equipment and training in the form of learnerships with Westcol", a public FET college on the West Rand.

Economic Development MEC Mxolisi Xayiya, who also attended the launch, said the provincial government would continue to develop tailor-made support to help small businesses grow and create jobs.

- SAinfo reporter and Gauteng Provincial Government

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