Township business owners have the capacity to be heroes and help create economic freedom in the country, and it is for this reason that the Heroooes initiative was established. Its aim is to ensure that township-based businesses not only contribute to the economy at large but also stop turning to outsiders for help while uplifting townships.
Mphuthi Mphuthi, who is the founder of the business advocacy group Soweto Business Access, spoke to Vutivi News about the initiative. Mphuthi explained that Herooes was established in response to the announcement of the Township Economic Development Bill, which aims to boost small businesses. He said that its main purpose was to prepare businesses, chambers and other stakeholders based in townships to understand the proposed legislation.
“We are galvanising chambers and associations to ensure that they are capacitated to deliver these services and opportunities to SMMEs,” he said. “The sad reality is that for the longest of time, people in government, including our own president, have sought assistance outside of townships to find solutions for townships when we have enough to deliver what is required.
“We cannot have people based in Sandton, for example, to find solutions on our behalf,” he also said. Mphuthi said that Heroooes had partnered with a team of expert organisations and associations. They included the National Small Business and Cooperatives Association, and Smart Procurement and the National Professional Tertiary Co-operative of South Africa Limited (NSBCA). He said their role was to empower township business chambers, forums and associations so that they were able to deal directly with the government, corporates and township-based communities.
“For example, smart procurement is able to bring procurement opportunities from government and big businesses, and these opportunities mean that the chambers, associations and forums are in a position to deliver these services to communities, as opposed to the past where we were told to solicit assistance from outside,” he told Vutivi News. “Moripe Holdings would provide training and structure to the leadership of these stakeholders, and the NSBCA ensures that there is compliance and proper bookkeeping.
“One of the problems township businesses face is that a lot of them are not compliant, so we are bringing all of these experts to address such issues,” he pointed out. Mputhi said that talks with different townships and areas had already begun.“We have already engaged with chambers of commerce in Soweto, Greater Johannesburg and in Emfuleni,” he said.
“The Gauteng provincial government, through the MEC of Economic Development, Agriculture and Rural Development, Parks Tau, has committed to empowering the Sedibeng area with a Special Economic Zone, so our visit was to ensure that SMMEs in the area have the confidence that they won’t be left out. “We have also partnered with Indlu Living Fund to extend backroom accommodation structures in townships and will be partnering with other entities as well to rope in funding worth billions to ensure that SMMEs in townships access these opportunities,” he said.
The Bill is intended to diversify SMME participation in food products, packaging and bottling, healthcare and pharmacy, household cleaning products, electrical appliances and auto components. It includes that big retail shopping malls and supermarkets in Gauteng townships will be forced to source some of their products and services directly from township-based producers, manufacturers and service providers.