This week saw Gauteng Premier David Makhura launch the Gauteng Township Retail Programme, where he committed R100 million to the project. But township-based small businesses believe that the retail sector is not the only one that needs funding immediately, and money should be provided to all sectors. Also, businesses have once again called on the government to make it easier for them to do business by getting rid of red tape.
Vutivi News spoke to township entrepreneur Mbali Nyawo, who owns iMbali Tyre Shop in Orlando, Soweto, following the launch of the programme, which the premier said would eventually target other sectors such as township manufacturers and real estate. Nyawo said the government needed to focus on all sectors. “I believe that SMMEs in all business sectors require funding because those are the businesses starting out, so they need all the funding that they can get,” she said.
“I’m not saying that government must go around giving everyone money as a form of funding. Due diligence must be done, but eventually, there should be broader funding mechanisms for SMEs so that they can really thrive.” Nyawo believes that funding every other sector will help prevent the country from spiraling into a lawless state.
“When you fund all types of businesses, you create jobs, and when you create jobs, you restore townships’ dignity,” she said. Nyawo also said that although such programmes were beneficial for SMMEs, the amount of red tape discouraged many of them from applying for such funds. “They (the government) create funds and programmes through channels like the NYDA (National Youth Development Agency) meant for the youth, but accessing those funds that are made available is a hurdle for township businesses,” she said.
“It almost just discourages anyone that embarks on the process because there is so much that is required for you to submit and comply with that before you even qualify you are exhausted from all the submissions and the red tape you must get through,” Nyawo said that township enterprises needed more than just funding.
“Now more than ever South Africa needs a government that can take very bold and unprecedented moves when it comes to supporting small businesses, not only in the form of funding but also in providing mentoring programmes and education in terms of accessing markets and linking up with small businesses with large corporations and private entities,” she said. Makhura said during the launch that it would take a lot of hard work to revitalise and build stronger sectors in the township economy, and said that not only retailers would get government support.
“If we want to fix the township economy, we must start with those small retail businesses and make sure that they are supported by the government,” he said.