KZN business roadshows gain momentum

11 July 2018 | Web Article Number: ME201810761

Commerce & Trade
Education & Training
SMME Development & Support
KZN business roadshows gain momentum

HUNDREDS of aspiring women and youth entrepreneurs in rural and township areas of KwaZulu-Natal will get to grips with the nitty-gritty of business over the next three months as Ithala rolls out the 2018 My Business Indaba.

The first indaba to kick off the roadshows was held in Ulundi at the end of June and the next is taking place in Pongola on 10 and 11 July.

“The My Business Indaba roadshows bring together our three main empowerment programmes which are specifically tailored towards SMME Development,” said Sithandiwe Dimba, Ithala’s Group Reputation Management Manager.

“Since we started the programme in 2014, we have seen the numbers of attendees at these events steadily increase and in the past three years we have reached more than 5000 SMME’s through these initiatives,” she said.

The three programmes that will run over two days at various venues throughout KZN are: • Imbokodo Iyazenzela Women in SMME Workshops; • Inkunz’isematholeni Youth in Business Competition; and • Siyasebenza SMME Development Workshops. These programmes are aligned to government’s key priority areas of rural development; township revival; youth and women empowerment; and the green economy, said Dimba.

“The Imbokodo Iyazenzela (Women in SMMEs) programme is a pillar of support to women entrepreneurs in KwaZulu-Natal who require access to information and the resources to grow. The development programme offers inspirational talks, advice, direction and opportunities for women in communities who are in business or who want to get into business.

“Women are by far the greater number of entrepreneurs reached which is an indication of many women seeing opportunities and wanting to be part of the economy, while others need to employ themselves,” Dimba said.

But it’s not all learning and no excitement or incentive. While getting to grips with business the entrepreneurs also have an opportunity to enter their businesses and business concepts into competitions. The prizes include business incubation, funding and assistance.

From 2015 to 2017, Ithala visited 34 towns, engaged with 3749 women and received 542 nominations for the awards. Of these, the top 20 female entrepreneurs each received mentorship which provided solutions specifically designed to meet the individual needs of their businesses.

These women will continue their training in the second six-month phase of the mentorship programme for the 2018/19 financial year which has just started. Ithala’s Inkunz’isematholeni Youth in Business programme seeks to encourage and support youth to come up with innovative ideas that can be transformed into viable businesses.

“It provides a platform for our youth to become entrepreneurs with our support. This year we are directing youth to find innovative solutions to green economy challenges faced by communities. These are water and sanitation; waste management; service delivery and private sector green solutions,” said IDFC acting CEO Themba Mathe.

“The development and enhancement of the knowledge economy is one of the key strategic goals of the KZN provincial government, whilst the growth of the green economy is in line with national government’s agenda,” he said.

Ithala, Technology Innovation Agency and other partners will groom these young entrepreneurs and assist them to embark on financed business ventures.

Dimba said: “Essentially we are looking for youth who are passionate about seeing themselves grow, and are looking for a partner who will walk with them in ensuring the realization of their business dreams.” Last year, Ithala received 198 entries - a 33% increase on the 132 entries received in 2016. In 2017 an Elandskop youth designed a solar operated power source and was the winner with the runner up, a UKZN student, who developed a maths app for smartphones and tablets. This year’s winners will receive training and mentorship as well as finance for their business venture.

The closing date for competition submissions is 20 September 2018. Selection will take place during October and November and the winner announcements will take place at an Inkunz’isematholeni Youth in Business gala function.

The Siyasebenza “We are working” Entrepreneur Development Programme is a series of developmental outreach workshops to educate and inspire existing and aspiring entrepreneurs with information to build and grow sustainable businesses.

The series comprises presentations and one-on-one consultations with KZN-based SMME’s and co-operatives on key topics of importance relating to starting business; compliance; market research; funding businesses and financial record keeping, said Dimba.

To find out where an Inkunz’isematholeni Youth in Business seminar is taking place in your region, visit www.myithalastory.com or call 031 907 8656.

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