On Thursday, 21 September 2017, the Small Enterprise Development Agency hosted a graduation ceremony for 77 participants at the Beautiful Gate in Philippi.Informal trading has always played a very critical role in the country’s economy. It still creates opportunities, contributes to poverty alleviation and serves as a relief to unemployment. Spaza shops, street vendors, funeral parlours, hair salons, tshisa nyamas, car guards and taxi drivers all form part of the informal sector. In this sector are no written contracts, no basic benefits, such as pensions and employer contributions for medical aid. Additionally, it is generally small scale with low productivity costs.Usually run from homes or pavements, it is run mostly by the unskilled and those with limited education.Most of the time, the operations are not registered. For many people who cannot find jobs, this sector becomes a viable alternative to generate an income. It provides a social security system, serving as an option for self-employment and it is an avenue for people with insufficient skills for the formal sector. Through it, affordable and convenient goods and services and also delivered to local communities. In a country where unemployment is a major concern, and frighteningly high unemployment rate, the informal sector ought to be recognised and be included in economic strategies. It relieves some of the unemployment pressures, reduces household poverty, and contributes to the local economy. While it is often viewed as a source of missing revenue, government is starting to recognise the sector as a key player in the country’s economy.In an effort to support the sector, the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda) in partnership with Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), and the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) launched a 15 months pilot programme called the Basic Entrepreneurial Skills Development (BESD), to skill and develop the emerging entrepreneurs in the informal economy. The programme is implemented in 19 pilot sites nationwide, and the Western Cape has a site in Philippi and George in the Southern Cape. The programme looks at a broad range of knowledge and skills pertaining to identifying, evaluating and selecting business opportunities, which will equip the entrepreneurs to transfer the particular knowledge and skills relevant to their specific circumstances, and to assist them to apply such skills and knowledge in the context of their own business During the graduation ceremony last week, Ronell Staphorst, the Project Manager, thanked all the participants for cooperation, dedication and hard work. She said the programme would not have been a success without support from the beneficiaries. Ntombizanele Figlan, from City of Cape Town, said their work includes conducting environmental compliance inspections and audits of City facilities.