Driving around Ekasi can be a perilous exercise but more than that, it is often an amazing experience. If you are a journalist like me, there is always a story ready to be told. It can be a small, trivial thing like how entrepreneurs stand by the robots and sell energy drinks or the fact that within a few months Philippi will have no less than seven shopping centres. Can you believe this? I know, but its true because along Lansdowne Road there are plans to build a shopping mall where the Small Business Area used to be. In Symphony Way next to the Marikana Informal Settlement, there are also plans to build a shopping centre. Now these will add to a buffet of shopping centres already in the area, the Philippi Plaza, iMarike, Joburg, Goal shopping centre and the Shoprite Centre at the corner of New Eisleben and Lansdowne Road. Surely this is a good thing, right? More places to choose from when shopping for stuff. These malls also come employment opportunities. This is good as unemployment statistics are off the roof, so to say. But is that all we can hope for with the so-called infrastructure development within our areas? Should we just look for employment? Of course not. There surely will be locally owned businesses at these centres.But another interesting opportunity is that of franchises. Buying into a well established franchises is often regarded as a safer option when getting into business.The support that a franchisee receives, brand loyalty that customers have as well as trusted operational systems make this seem like a sure bet. But how can Sbu from Lower Crossroads attain a franchise considering that a franchise can cost anything between a quarter million rand to more than five million rand. Www.whichfranchise.co.za specialise in information around franchising in four different countries, South Africa included. They offer a step by step guide into how to purchase a franchise, the basics of which are to identify the appropriate location, market research on the profitability of such a business in that area and approaching the franchise holder. A prospective franchiser can apply for funding from most of the major banks with Absa having a department dedicated to franchises. If that fails to bear any fruits there is also funding support from the National Empowerment Fund. The NEF is a government fund to support Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BB-BEE). They offer fund and non funding support to a variety of industries, including franchise finance. The Franchise Finance product is aimed at assisting black entrepreneurs who wish to acquire a franchise license. The product is aimed at entrepreneurs who wish to start their own businesses by buying a franchise linked to a particular brand to reduce risks associated with start-up businesses lacking a track record. Some of their key requirements for this funding include its preference for well established franchise concepts, active management involvement by BEE parties, minimum shareholding of 50.1% by a BEE candidate, funding is limited to R10 million. Good luck Sbu.