“The Small Business Week is one of the most important events in the calendar of the Newcastle Municipality. This is the 5th year that this event has taken place and each year we have seen this event grow”. These were the opening and welcoming remarks by Programme Director and Newcastle Municipality Strategic Executive Director for Development Planning & Human Settlements; Ms Nokuthula Thusi, when Newcastle Municipality in partnership with Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA), ITHALA, Department of Economic Development and Tourism hosted the Small Business Week held from 13-16 October 2015 at the Blackrock Casino.
The aim of the event was to enhance Small, Medium and Micro Enterprise (SMME) and Co-operative Development to drive Economic Development by providing skills and information as well as opportunities to SMME’s, which include access to finance, access to markets and dealing with compliance issues with regards to the establishment of new businesses.
In his keynote address, Newcastle Municipality Mayor Cllr Afzul Rehman emphasized the need to create a conducive environment for business people to succeed. “We have events such as this so that you can all come together and put your minds together and come up with plans and strategies to be able to dictate to the leadership within the municipality on how to move forward in creating jobs for businesses to prosper and to ensure that we win this triple challenge of poverty, inequality and unemployment”, alluded the Mayor.
“We need to continue to grow Newcastle in attracting and bringing foreign direct investment to our town which will enable creation of sustainable jobs. The municipality is in the process of developing a very strong business retention and expansion programme, through this programme we will be visiting big businesses in Newcastle to ensure that these businesses retain and expand thus pursue support from them to assist in developing small businesses in Newcastle”, he concluded.
Guest speakers, Mr Bonke Shipalana; CEO of a Communications Firm & Founder of Power of 1 and Mr Sbonelo Mbatha; Chairperson of the BP Dealership Council, gave insight and experience as successful entrepreneurs.
“I am here to inspire you to become successful entrepreneurs. Most of us have the business plan with the experience but we don’t know the process of putting it together so it can appeal to others. There is a difference between a business and a business man/woman. The mistake we make is to understand the business and forget to train the business man/woman”, advised Shipalana.
When sharing his life experiences, from being a petrol attendant to registering for a BP Entrepreneurship Programme to now owning petrol stations around South Africa; Mr Sbonelo Mbatha urged those present to know their line of business and what it is that they are passionate about. “One of the biggest problems I have seen from aspiring entrepreneurs is to start big when you are small. Entrepreneurship is simple problem solving and in pursuit of solving problems, you make money”, said Mbatha.
In closing, emerging entrepreneurs; Mr Thami Mbatha, Mrs Sonto Makhubo and Mr Sandile Nazo shared their success stories and bestowed acknowledgement to SEDA for the assistance, guidance and the economic development of their businesses.