In line with the growing emphasis on developing entrepreneurs and small businesses in South Africa, the University of Johannesburg’s Centre for Small Business Development (CSBD) will host its third international conference on entrepreneurship and small business development in Soweto on 15 and 16 May this year.
The theme for the conference, ‘Creating industries in townships and other marginalised neighbourhoods’, aims to stimulate innovation and knowledge creation amongst township entrepreneurs.
Previous conferences have attracted over 500 delegates, with speakers attending from a diverse range of countries around the world. The speakers will explore and reflect on the challenges, threats, obstacles, advances and opportunities to be found in different aspects of entrepreneurship and small business development in townships and similar locations.
Creating economic hubs
According to Dr Thami Mazwai, director for Small Business Development at the CSBD, “The creation of South Africa’s townships was premised on racial separation, thus to this day, they remain pockets of labour and poverty and on the fringes of cities. Turning these townships into vibrant economic hubs will contribute to socio-economic development and political stability and this has become the challenge of the day. The conference also plays a crucial role in stimulating research collaborations and networking within African countries and the rest of the world.”
As SMEs contribute in the region of 40% of South Africa’s gross domestic profit and employ more than half of the private sector workforce, the importance of developing small businesses cannot be underestimated. In addition, it is estimated that as many as 80% of new jobs in world economies are being created by SMEs, making small business an indispensable player in the economic growth of South Africa.
Key areas to address
The key topics under discussion at the conference will include the New Growth Plan, opportunities for township economies, the Department of Trade and Industry’s new industrial policy action plan and funding for township businesses. In addition, Ricardo Bisso, an expert from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), will provide an overview of his experiences in marginalised areas of Mexico, while 15 academics from eight universities across Africa will present papers in breakaway sessions, sharing their significant findings with township entrepreneurs.
“A special focus of the conference is to cultivate a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation in our youth, as this is an essential ingredient in economic growth. It guarantees a sustainable, stable and wealth-creating society; one in which we can take our place in the global village as creators of value and wealth in our own right,” concludes Mazwai.
The CSBD team encourages delegates to contact Chardonnay Marchesi at firstname.lastname@example.org to secure their attendance, as participation is strictly on a first-come, first-served basis, therefore pre-registration is essential. For more information, visit www.csbd.co.za, or contact Chardonnay on +27 (0)11 549 8300.