Small business enterprise inks deal with Coca-Cola

2010-10-30 11:22

Small businesses are expected to play a crucial role in helping the country reach its goal of ­creating five million jobs by 2020.

Mlungisi Ngwenya, the general secretary of ­the African Co-operative for Hawkers and Informal Businesses (Achib), this week outlined the first steps his organisation was taking towards ­moving in that direction.

“We have clinched a deal with Coca-Cola. We are going to use our warehouse in Johannesburg’s Park Station as the beverage multinational’s ­distribution centre,” said Ngwenya.

In terms of the deal with Coca-Cola, Achib will supply 70 mobile stalls with umbrellas and cooler boxes for free.

The mobile stalls are going to be used by ­emerging entrepreneurs to sell beverages in the Johannesburg central business district.

“So far, we have managed to roll out 35 stalls. An unemployed person wanting to take advantage of these should just come to our office in ­Johannesburg and register,” Ngwenya said.

Before they are given the stalls, candidates will be screened to determine whether they will ­succeed as entrepreneurs.

“If this project runs successfully, we will use our warehouses in Nkandla in KwaZulu-Natal and Polokwane in Limpopo to act as Coca-Cola’s ­distribution centres,” he said.

Ngwenya said they were planning to set up manufacturing plants that would make products as good as those produced by big manufacturers.

“We are busy finalising the business plan for this project and we will then explore our funding ­options,” he said.

Malose Kekana, the chairperson of development finance institution Khula, said the country’s small business development was hampered by a skills shortage. “We need to focus on creating open-entry skills centres that will teach people how to do things in a matter of days,” he said.

“In the US, for instance, they have 125 open­entry skills centres that run throughout the year and people could learn to be car mechanics in three days.”

Open-entry skills centres would teach the ­basics or upgrade existing skills.

Kekana said these centres could empower ­financially disadvantaged and unemployed school-leavers to start their own businesses.

Small Enterprise Development Agency chief executive Hlonela Lupuwana said there should be a focus on industries that have the potential to grow and create employment.

“Such industries can serve as springboards for the establishment of small enterprises that will provide products and services within the value chain of these industries,” said Lupuwana.

“It is also important to support communities that want to utilise local resources available to them in order to create a situation where ­communities can sustain themselves and create employment for their own people.”

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