A trendy double-storey container-building is currently being erected in Imbali where local youth entrepreneurs with start-ups will be given space and support to grow their businesses.
The project’s idea is based on the KwaMashu Big Box container shop model where the youth from northern Durban are running a variety of businesses, from start-up fashion houses to printing shops and restaurants. The aim is to transform the image of the township and remove stigma, which primarily hinders development and investment opportunities.
Msunduzi’s senior manager for development services Mthobisi Khumalo said they are using 37 containers that were donated by Transnet for the project. The City also received a grant of R8,9 million from the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) for the first phase of the project, but that generated more interest and ended up being R10 million.
“The construction of the first phase is costing us R6,9 million, but to finish the project we will need about R20 million. We are still lobbying other [sponsors] — like Hulamin, national Cogta, IDC — for the balance of the money,” he said.
Khumalo said the containers were being configured to create decent working spaces for a variety of activities and would require operations similar to that of a business incubation. He said they wanted to help small businesses that have started operating in other spaces, even in their garages at home, but needed support to grow. They would pay the minimum rent for the maintenance of the facility and the centre’s management would raise other revenue through letting space for big businesses to put up their billboards.
Investment marketing co-ordinator at Msunduzi Mandisa Gabuza said: “We’re not just taking businesspeople and dumping them there. We will also be training them in business skills as part of the developmental support that will be offered to them, so we are engaging other stakeholders ... to assist.”
Among the aims of the project, Khumalo said, was to reduce unemployment and “improving the regularisation of informal trade and to provide a more sophisticated space for businesses in this sector”.
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He said the vision for the Imbali Youth Enterprise Park was for a vibrant, dynamic place for youth to grow in business and residents of Imbali to use and enjoy the space. It would include a mix of businesses such as a shisanyama, car wash, hair salons and an Internet café. There would also be government services including municipal offices and those of the departments that people need often, like Home Affairs.
Some of the containers would be converted into boardrooms where business advisory meetings would be held.
“This is an incubation so we will not be putting competing businesses together at the same time so that whoever is a tenant at the time is not disadvantaged in any way and has a real opportunity to grow,” said Khumalo.
The target group is people between the ages of 18 and 35 years, and Khumalo said as part of their transitional model a person who has gone through the incubation stage would be assisted with relocating to other business premises which could see some moving to the CBD and other parts of the city.