State bank aims to bolster township economy

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa at the summit in Soweto. (Werner Beukes, Sapa)
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa at the summit in Soweto. (Werner Beukes, Sapa)

Johannesburg - The Gauteng government is considering launching a bank that will assist township entrepreneurs get access to funding to help grow their businesses, premier David Makhura said on Tuesday.

"We will start to put into action the creation of a state bank that will support the township economy," he told the Gauteng township economy revitalisation summit in Soweto.

Makhura said there was the Gauteng Enterprise Propeller (GEP) but it was not doing enough to assist businesses.

"We want to position it properly. So far its work has been too little. It has been helping too few people. It has been operating like a typical bank. We want to transform it, to focus particularly on the transformation of the township," he said.

GEP is a provincial government agency established in 2005 under the auspices of the economic development department to provide non-financial support, financial support, and co-ordinate stakeholders for the benefit of small, medium and micro entrepreneurs (SMMEs) in Gauteng.

R160m boost

Makhura told delegates the provincial government would invest at least R160m in revitalising and building business hubs in the townships.

"We will invest R160m for the current financial year to build infrastructure for the township entrepreneurs to do their work properly.

"Many of them do their work in their homes, often making a noise and disturbing those in the house. They would like to do more work but they can't," said Makhura.

He outlined the plans his administration had for building township economy.

Over the next five years, government would invest R1bn in building and improving infrastructure for entrepreneurs to operate from.

Red tape hindering businesses

He promised delegates that government would look at some of the laws hampering business growth in townships.

"We are passing laws that don't promote SMMEs," he said.

Deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa agreed with Makhura on the need for easy access to funding for SMMEs. He said the idea of revitalising the township economy was one which could work if supported.

"It is a great idea that can be achieved if we focus on it. Most of the businesses lack funding, business skills and market insight," he said.

Ramaphosa said it was about time that the stronghold of the economy at the hands of monopoly business was changed.

"We want to push ahead with a state bank so that you can have access to funding so that you can run you're businesses," he said.

Don't be copycats

He called on entrepreneurs not to be copycats and be original. He also told delegates that failure was part of business and they should not be afraid of it. He said successful businessman and women failed in some of their ventures but ended up succeeding.

"Be innovative. Innovation is what drives economy and business. Ask yourself, what is it that I can do that is innovative. Do not do what your neighbour is doing. Come up with things, new ideas that can help you fly," said Ramaphosa.

He asked the delegates why they had not set up a township stock exchange to assist businesses in raising funds through investments.

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