It is critical that SMMEs are capacitated to grow and prosper in an economy especially hardest-hit by the COVID-19 outbreak. This requires programmes that target people and projects where they can have the greatest economic and social impact.
This is the belief of Marijke Coetzee, head of Marketing and Communications at Redefine Properties. In line with this philosophy, Redefine has reached out to communities in need with two programmes that will support community development in Soweto.
One programme is aimed at supporting SMMEs, while the other programme is targeted at supporting Non-Profit Organizations (NPOs).
The programmes came as a result of ongoing and intense engagement with various communities and community members and leaders. From these engagements, it was made clear that support has to be focused on three areas namely the youth, SMMEs and NPOs.
“As communities around our properties attempt to revive the economy, SMMEs face the same question as us: how do we reopen? How do we reinvent our business model?” Marijke asked. “In addition to causing a global public health crisis, some of the measures taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19, such as lockdown and social distancing, slowed down the ability of SMMEs to contribute meaningfully to the economy.”
To this end, the SMME Development Programme was born. The support programme, implemented by Sijawu Consulting, was launched in September and will run for 12 months. “The programme is aimed at building businesses to survive and thrive in a constrained economy and create employment opportunities for the localyouth,” Coetzee said.
“It will target businesses at various stages of their development both in the informal and formal sector.” Through the programme, 3o individual entrepreneurs have been selected to participate in the programme.
They will receive 240 hours of business coaching and mentorship, 18 days of contact time, and an online user management system that will host e-learning material and knowledge library for them to use throughout the programme.
Coetzee also said that the implementation of the Youth Development Programme will coincide with the formalization of “The Hub” at Maponya Mall. “The multi-purpose space will seek to address the needs identified by the community particularly the youth, to connect them to resources that will promote participation in the local economy. “Investing in the communities is about community engagement and this is at the core of Redefine’s way of business, and by leveraging spaces we manage to change the lives and the future of the people and communities around them,” she also said.
The NPO programme will be implemented by the NSBM Consortium, including the National Institute Community Development and Management Trust, South African Association of Youth clubs, Be Unlimited and Mvelwabo Living Lounge. According to Coetzee, the programme has selected 12 local NPOs operating around Maponya Mall, and each NPO will in turn elect three people who will attend the training programme.
The programme slightly differs from the SMME programme in that it will be achieved through 25 days of contact time, 360 hours’ worth of coaching and mentoring, 6 hours of leadership and personal transformation sessions per candidate, and 18 hours of collective reflective sessions of interpersonal dynamics and team development throughout the year.