A forum based at the Strandfontein Library has already helped 25 locals to take their businesses to the next level.The Small Business Information Forum is run by Deion Baatjies, a local business owner who started the venture more than two years ago.“We provide the businesses with a platform of information on how to start a website and create an app and also offer them an opportunity to network and share ideas,” says Baatjies.The advice sessions have also helped the business owners promote themselves and elevate their businesses.“When we came into the area, most of the owners were on their own and were doing their own thing. They did not know about social media and websites and that is why we started this. We offer this free of charge to the community,” he says,Baatjies works in the information technology industry and is passionate about the upliftment of the community and unemployed youth.His company, Parrot 6 Digital Media, also facilitates several free online community publications.“We create a platform for these owners to promote and network so that they don’t feel alone in what they are doing. Most times they would sit at home and stress about making it a success,” he says.The services offered at the discussion sessions include business registration, tax clearance and BEE certificates and tender database registration.“We bring in a lot of people from government to assist us and link up businesses with organisations and departments that can assist them,” says Baatjies.The initiative has seen 25 businesses in the manufacturing, crafts, IT and other industries registered. The goal for this year is to focus on funding, he says.The forum makes use of the library to gather information while also learning from each other.“It is all about information and we try to see how we can assist in making dreams a reality,” he says.The sessions are open to all business owners and those who are interested in business. V The group meets at the Strandfontein Library every Friday from 09:00 to 11:00.