By Emily Setona
BETHLEHEM – The Department of Economic, Small Business Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs MEC Makalo Mohale says business plays a crucial role when it comes to the issue of job creation. Therefore, it is the government’s role and responsibility to create a conducive environment for the sector to thrive.
Mohale’s engagement session with unemployed graduates and entrepreneurs which was held at new hall in Dihlabeng local municipality on Tuesday, aims at promoting job creation, regulating the township economy and introducing government programmes to assist businesses and unemployed graduates.
He said even though many people single out lack of funding as an obstacle, money alone cannot sustain a business.
“We have identified challenges that lead to many businesses collapsing despite being financed. Lack of business marketing , poor financial management, expertise as well as experience. We do not want the businesses that we have invested in to go to waste. We do not want dependency,” Mohale pointed out.
He said, in a bid to mitigate these challenges and weaknesses, government has put in place various forms of interventions such as bringing mentorships, and skills development programmes that will enable entrepreneurs to sustain their businesses.
At the same occasion, the founder of Siyacleana J Legacy, Snethemba Hadebe, said her journey in business has been an uphill battle.
Hadebe’s company manufactures cleaning detergents and supplies bulk products toschools and government departments.
“I attend an event like this one in 2019. Three years later we are gathered in this hall again addressing the same issues and being given the same promises. Sometimes a person doesn’t need funding, just an opportunity to make the right connections, supply here, go there, just an open door. On my own I’ve been trained by The UJ Chemical seta, I got my training from a different province not our local SEDA (Small Enterprise Development Agency) a government institution. I only started working with SEDA last year after getting my own training without their help,” Hadebe said.
Another business owner , Pukelo Vilakazi who is also a member of Simunye Business Forum which was registered in 2020 to incorporate local tuck shop owners in Vogelfontein had this to say:
“The plans outlined by the MEC are good and well if they will be implemented. I feel like as South African citizens we are often at the mercy of the government. On a previous visit to Zambia, I had the privilege to experience a country that puts its citizens first, something that I don’t see happening in South Africa.”
Speaking to The Guard, Tema Tshabalala an unemployed graduate with skills in construction described the engagement as a breath of fresh air, but was skeptical about about its objectives being achieved.
“We were told to go to school and that education is the key to success, but the youth unemployment rate is above 50 percent. The situation is frustrating and depressing. It’s an emotional touture to have a 35-year old or a 40-year old still living at home depending on their parents. I really hope things change,” Tshabalala said.
In response, Mohale said the proposed Free State Local Economic Development and Transformation Bill is one of government’s ways of ensuring that citizens are protected and benefit from big businesses.
“We have a proposed the Bill and once it is approved and becomes law, it will force big businesses to buy from small businesses. We will also assist small business to venture into bulk buying This Bill seeks to regulate tuck shops in the township to make sure the business is not saturated by foreign nationals.”