By: Tebogo Mokwena
The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC) has admitted to Parliament that it is performing poorly in empowering SMMEs and women-owned small businesses in the country’s industrial parks. This was revealed during the department’s meeting with the Select Committee on Trade and Industry, Economic Development, Small Business Development, Tourism and Labour this week.
It was held to provide the committee with an update on the Dimbaza Industrial Park in Dimbaza in the Eastern Cape. According to the DTIC’s acting chief director of special economic zones and industrial parks, Thami Klassen, much of the space at the park was occupied by SMMEs. He also noted that in the first phase of the park’s construction, 19 SMMEs from local areas were contracted. Two of them were women-owned, and an average of R280,500 was spent on each SMME.
Committee member Brenda Mathevula quizzed the DTIC’s team on the challenges the department was facing regarding contracting women-owned SMMEs. Klassen admitted that this was an area of great concern not only for the Dimbaza Industrial Park but also for the other 12 across the country. “The statistics regarding women and youth-owned business are not looking good in all of the industrial parks,” he said. Klassen said the department would change tact and endeavour to contract more women-owned SMMEs and cooperatives from the area.
He also said that a greater focus on developing the township economy was at the forefront of the department’s industrial efforts at the parks through the Township and Rural Economy Strategy. “We are proposing that we have taken the view to have the industrial park revitalised on a zonal approach, and we want to zone a section where we would call it the township manufacturing and enterprise zone,” Klaasen told the committee.
“We want to bring manufacturers and operators that work from home and bring them into an enabled infrastructure where we can make them formidable and also provide an alternative form of energy.” He also noted that the strategy would be employed for the development of township manufacturing and enterprise hubs to support township and rural-based enterprises with enabling infrastructure and security. Eastern Cape Development Corporation CEO Ayanda Wakaba said that they had also identified vertical farming, hydroponics and small-scale abbatoirs as areas of focus for more SMME inclusion.
He said that as the park moved into other phases of development, more attention would be given to including women-owned SMMEs, and small businesses run by the youth and people living with disabilities.