The Durban Business Fair has proven to be the biggest and most relevant business exhibition initiative in building and developing Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) in the City. This programme has grown rapidly as an instrumental vehicle that drives the development and growth of SMMEs throughout the eThekwini area. This alone confirms that the City’s efforts to tackle the triple threat of unemployment, poverty and inequality are visible and appreciated by many.

This year’s Durban Business Fair will be on another level and reach greater heights, as it will mark the launch of a three-year partnership, with City of New Orleans in the United States of America, to host the Essence Festival, which will connect the City’s entrepreneurs with international industry players from various sectors, to assist them learn new market trends in order to remain competitive.

The partnership will include empowerment seminars, career guidance, a parenting corner, a youth desk and entertainment that will comprise exchanging knowledge with international and local film-makers, as well as those in the music, fashion and beauty industries.

This initiative does not only expose SMMEs to international markets, prospective buyers and investors, but also better positions the City on a global scale, since more than 20 000 international visitors are expected to flock into Durban for the fair in the next three years. This is an integral part of our Visitor Marketing Strategy.

This is not the first time that the Fair is being held concurrently with an international programme. In 2013 the Fair was held jointly with the 19th International Conference on Small and Medium Enterprises, which saw delegates from abroad descending upon the City to share business information and ideas. This proves that the City is serious about creating business linkages between international and local businesses.

This is an indication of the growth that has been experienced by the Durban Business Fair, which started as a small exhibition after the National Government adopted the Integrated Strategy on the Promotion of Entrepreneurship and Small Business, which was to ensure that small businesses progressively increase their contribution, growth and performance in critical areas such as job creation, equity and access to markets.

The City’s commitment to building and developing self-sustainable SMMEs will contribute to the country’s agenda for radical economic transformation as this sector contributes an estimated 32% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).