From Township backyard dwellers to Economic saviours?

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Townships on the African continent have for decades been seen by many as places of poverty, unemployment, hopelessness and crime. The enormous challenges facing the people that live in these townships have become a symbol of all that was wrong with the “old” South Africa and the continent. But, fast forward to today and there are many townships where there are increadible entrepreneurial pockets of excellence emerging within the communities living there. Taking South Africa as an example, where there are many thousands of successful thriving micro business forming an integral part of the SA economy ! According to World Bank figures – 38% of the working-aged urban population lives within the townships of SA and without this workforce, SA would not be able to survive!

The township economy consists largely of small-scale, informal retail activities, from spaza shops and street trading to shebeens; while the taxi industry, which has grown over the past few decades, supports a small knock-on economy of vehicle service businesses. But these business activities are mostly tied to their nearby communities and don’t feed into the national economy on any proper scale.

This has been recognised by the South African government, however, and is being seen as an opportunity to help rebuild South Africa’s economy post-lockdown by helping the township economy to grow. Bearing in mind that some 2.2 million South African jobs have been lost in the second quarter of 2020, mainly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is now more important than ever to find new economic opportunities.

The government’s solution includes revitalising underused/derelict industrial parks and land (many found near township areas), as well as developing special economic zones (SEZs). According to deputy president David Mabuza, private investment has so far amounted to about R17.2 billion and about 15 000 new jobs have been created, which is encouraging, though much work still needs  to be done.

Zhauns, one of Africa’s leading suppliers of machines, has a specialist division called PARD (Poverty Alleviation and Rural Development), which aims to increase entrepreneurial activity and create economic opportunities in Africa, in line with the government’s goals. PARD supplies machines that make items that are currently imported into the continent, thereby creating employment opportunities for entrepreneurs and SMEs. It also offers business incubation, which can often result in formalised growth of around 80%.

Initiatives like PARD have the potential to help grow the township economy and help get South Africa (and the continent) back on the right track in the wake of COVID-19.  Simply fill out the form and see how PARD can help grow your business for a brighter tomorrow.

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