To demonstrate the City’s commitment to township regeneration and black economic empowerment, eThekwini Municipality has set aside R100 million to build small industrial facilities closer to the people.
This was revealed by Mayor Zandile Gumede during a two-day business conference held as part of the week long Essence Festival at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre on 8 to 9 November.
The creation of black industrialists and sustained economic growth were the main topics for discussion during the conference, held under the theme ‘Radical Economic Transformation Agenda’ which was attended by top government and business leaders from South Africa and abroad.
Addressing delegates at the conference, Gumede, who was part of a panel that included the MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Sihle Zikalala said: “We want to support black-owned manufacturing businesses to ensure access to markets, skills development and productivity improvement for them to produce high quality goods,” she added.
Gumede said looking ahead, the City would ensure that opportunities in its massive projects, like the GO! Durban, benefit locals. “This will create opportunities for black businesses and enhance their expertise,” she said.
In addition, Gumede said the City has budgeted R750 million towards the development of scarce skills in the artisan sector over the next three years as part of its economic transformation strategy.
Zikalalala expressed the same sentiments as Gumede. “As provincial government we feel that the Municipality’s economic empowerment plans are a perfect fit with our own radical economic agenda which adopts a strong bias towards the empowerment of black people in general, and women and youth in particular.”
Zikalala urged entrepreneurs to take advantage of government’s R1 billion incentive scheme directed at creating more than 100 large and competitive black industrialists within the country.
He added that the black industrialists fund is expected to attract between R10 billion and R20 billion from other developmental sources.
“Increasing the number of black people that manage, own and control enterprises and productive assets is the solution to radically transforming the local economy, create job opportunities, drive skills development and alleviate poverty,” Zikalala added.
Also addressing delegates at the conference, Jimmy Manyi, Founder of the Decolonization Foundation called for closer synergies between government and black industrialists in order to achieve government’s radical economic transformation ideals.
A panel from the United States of America, which included the President of the California Black Chamber of Commerce Aubry Stone, Carmen West a business development specialist from the US Department of Commerce, Jackie Wright of Wright Enterprise and Ron Busby President of the US Black Chambers INC. gave insight on sustainable economic growth and wealth redistribution. They also indicated their strong interest on collaborating with local entrepreneurs.
Businesses that were in attendance applauded government for its tireless efforts in developing entrepreneurs, saying initiatives such as the Durban Fashion Fair Emporium and Furniture Incubator had already started to yield positive results.