Supporting township businesses with essential knowledge and resources for success

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By Afesis – Kagisano and African Kulture

While facilitating social inquiry and community vision exercises in Khayelitsha, and our work with women, we discovered that unemployment, poverty and the lack of an income are of the key factors that perpetuate crime and violence Khayelitsha. Most community members and stakeholders we engaged with pleaded with us to assist in bringing employment and income-generating opportunities into the community.

The scope of our programme limits us to only focus on and support peacebuilding efforts. However, we had to find creative ways to tackle these additional issues because they are an underlying cause and their impact is intertwined with our mission of finding ways to prevent violence and build social cohesion. Hence, on 2 February 2024, Afesis, through the Kagisano programme, collaborated with African Kulture to host the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA) and the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) Information Session at Isivivana Centre in Khayelitsha.

African Kulture runs a SME Business Clinic, a one-week training programme focused on supporting start-ups, and entrepreneurs who are unemployed youth and adults. The NYDA and SEDA information session’s aim was to add as much value to these businesses as possible, by linking them up with institutions that would assist them with market access, grant funding and other business services.

SEDA and NYDA took participants through the wide range of support services they provide to businesses. The two agencies emphasised the importance of township businesses making use of opportunities provided to them by the government. Some participants stated that, “I found the session helpful, because it connected me with opportunities I can explore.” Another mentioned that, “I didn’t know about SEDA, today I got to learn about their services and I will be following up with them.”

Jongisizwe Ntshuntshe, Cofounder and Head of Strategic Development at African Kulture, noted that: “As a local company, we see value in collaborating with the Kagisano programme. And we believe we can play a more meaningful role as the bridge between local businesses, the non-state sector, private sectors, and government.”

Taking into account the high unemployment rate and state of our communities, collaborations need to be deliberate. Social issues have a major impact on the progress of local businesses and our economy in general. Dlakana said, “Every business is unique so we cannot take a blanket approach in supporting these businesses if we are serious about seeing them succeeding. Entrepreneurship has the power to change our community and be a tool to bridge the income gap for the marginalised.”

As part of the business clinic, participants received startup kits that included assistance with business registration, marketing material, and digital resources. As part of the programme, businesses will take part in ongoing workshops, mentorship, and coaching sessions. The businesses that participated were not selected based on any rigid criteria, only that they must be based in the East District of Western Cape and owner-run.

“African Kulture hopes to see all businesses that go through the SME Business Clinic grow their ventures and contribute to job creation and social impact. We want the businesses we work with to drive the transformation of their communities,” said Qayisani Dlakana, Co-founder and Director of African Kulture.

The NYDA and SEDA Information Session was one of many businesses support that African Kulture is offering these businesses. During this event, entrepreneurs received assistance in identifying cracks and gaps in their businesses. They were also given knowledge and tools needed to better understand the sectors they operate in.

The SME Business Clinic is expected to initiate its programme in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, and the Northwest provinces in the coming months.

Upcoming event

On 27 March 2024, the African Kulture will host the first SME Business Expo and annual tradeshow in Khayelitsha. It will bring together industry experts who will share insights and strategies. This will serve as a nexus bringing local businesses and mainstream economic activity and services together in one space, and provide short term jobs, tourism, and income opportunities for local businesses. Afesis, through Kagisano programme will be part of the panelist discussion during the Expo.

More about the African Kulture SME Business Clinic

The African Kulture SME Business Clinic was launched in November 2023. This empowering initiative was made possible by a collaboration with the City of Cape Town East Districts Economic Development Department. The programme is designed to support one hundred businesses in the city’s East District.