Township businesses are key to the economy

2017-06-01 06:02

Township economies should not be seen as secondary or less important to big business, said Anglo American executive head, Andile Sangqu.

Sangqu was speaking at the Enterprise and Supplier Development conference held in Fourways recently.

He highlighted some of the challenges township small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are facing and their important role in building the economy.

“Black business or township business is not small business,” said Sangqu.

Township entrepreneurs’ role in the economy, despite their size, is big, he said.

To maximize the country’s economic potential, the public and private sector need to create an enabling environment for SMEs to grow. This is especially necessary in neglected areas like township and rural communities, he explained.

Structural and sustainable support programmes, in addition to investment, are needed to scale these SMEs. Further, to ensure their economic inclusion, there should be linkages between the formal and informal sector, said Sangqu.

This is achievable through cross-sector partnerships among business, government and civil society.

An interplay between business and government is the only mechanism that can ensure a thriving and sustainable township economy, which does not play “second fiddle” to formal economies, he added.

“To achieve growth, it is best to help entrepreneurs have access to opportunities in the formal economy.”

Some challenges to overcome include access to financial capital and limited access to market and access to mentorship and skills training. Additionally, a conducive regulatory environment, supportive of township businesses is needed.

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