Bags of opportunity for business whizz kids

30 May 2018 | Web Article Number: ME201810142

Agriculture & Sugar
Finance & Investment
Government & Municipal
SMME Development & Support

THE three-day Inner and Outer West Regional Business Fair, held at the Hammarsdale Junction Mall recently, has been hailed for continuing to expose and promote township-based businesses.

The exhibitors included three Phezulu High School pupils who thanked the municipality for the opportunity to market their businesses to a wider audience. The business-minded teens also reported making a profit from sales as well as increasing their customer database from networking with potential buyers.

The trio, who are in the same business studies class at school, sell leather handbags which are produced by themselves, handmade craft and artwork as well as vegetables which they have grown.

One of them, Siphelele Mthembu, said attending the regional fair had exceeded their expectations as they also learned about business development opportunities provided by the municipality.

Mthembu made reference to the 2018 Lion’s Den Business Plan competition that offers financial and non-financial support to emerging businesses. Applications for this competition are currently open and close on 29 June 2018.

“We will definitely not miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity which also has an intermediate schools entrepreneurship category,” Mthembu added.

Other elements of the regional fair included Youth Business Connect seminars which provided a platform for young people to pitch their business idea to a panel of judges from Coca Cola, South African Breweries and Ithala.

The fair also hosted a Business Indaba with a key focus on construction and co-operative development, Flavours of Durban culinary lessons, film master classes and fashion talks which saw four panellists deliver talks on garment construction, pricing, marketing and fashion in retail.

Speakers - who included developers, stakeholders from various sectors and municipal project executives - highlighted sub-contractor work, employment opportunities and development projects in the pipeline.

The fair attracted 14 470 visitors and over 100 exhibitors. More than 1 300 emerging and aspiring entrepreneurs attended the business seminars, with 470 participants attending filmmaking master classes and 110 young people participating in the Youth Business Connect seminar.

Another highlight of the fair was the film development master class that was addressed by local award-winning filmmakers Philani and Bonnie Sithebe.

The Sithebes, who are the founders of the Durban Motion Pictures Film Production Company, are from Hammersdale. They are discovering and exposing local talent through producing local films that are aired on DSTV’s Mzansi Magic channel.

The couple encouraged attendees to look beyond the acting profession, saying film production has other elements that could contribute to the growth of an aspiring film maker.

“People must understand that there is more to film making than acting. There are people behind the scenes like a director, producer, scriptwriter, make-up artist, wardrobe department, camera people and so forth. You need those people to get the final product that you see on the screens. So I encourage people to look beyond acting,” said Philani.

Three local telenovela Uzalo full-time employees, who started as interns, also spoke about the important roles behind the scenes. Siphamandla Nomandla, Thalente Zuma and Gugulethu Phiri were beneficiaries of Uzalo’s one-year internship programme that was facilitated by the municipality’s Film Office.

Chairperson of the Economic Development and Planning Committee, Councillor Sipho Kaunda, said the exhibition was a huge success, adding that the response from the Hammarsdale business community was overwhelming.

“All the seminars and other activities that were held within the three days had full attendance with some attendees presenting testimonies on how this platform has contributed to the growth of their business. This indicates that they don’t take these platforms for granted and that they are serious about business development.”

Kaunda said they had revived the regional business fairs to accelerate local economic growth in the different parts of eThekwini. “To further uplift enterprises, we have set aside R99 million for the next three years for this programme.”

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