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Dec 15, 2006
Development of Soweto business empowerment zone gets movingBack
Installation of services such as roads and stormwater, water, sewerage and electrical infrastructure for the five-hectare component of the Soweto business empowerment zone (SBEZ) site on which operations have begun is expected to begin in early February next year and be completed by June.
The Johannesburg Development Agency has, on behalf of the Gauteng Department of Economic Development, called for qualified contractors to prequalify to tender as the main contractor for the installation of bulk services for the SBEZ.
The SBEZ aims to create a cluster-based small, medium-sized and microenterprise (SMME) industrial park to support, promote and formalise Soweto-based SMMEs.
An official at the Gauteng Department of Economic Development says that, owing to stringent timeframes on the project, significant emphasis will be placed on the tenderer’s ability to deliver the project on time and within budget. The zone is situated in Diepkloof Zone Six, on the eastern side of Soweto and to the south-west of Johannesburg, and involves the development of a multipurpose business centre. “Historically, Soweto has always played a residential dormitory role to Joburg,” says the department official, who adds that the project gives the city an opportunity to correct the distortion of the past. The empowerment zone is strategically located close to the on- and off-ramps of the N1 concrete highway, thus linking the area to the greater Johannesburg market.
The site is 34,6 ha in area and will comprise four blocks of business units, which will be let to black economic-empowerment (BEE) businesses, 12 larger light industrial and retail stands and four blocks of high-density residential units.
An important aspect of the zone will be an incubator facility to support, promote and formalise Soweto-based businesses through shared secretarial and administrative functions, linkages to national support services and incentives, as well as procurement opportunities.
The official says that there are few areas in Soweto where existing and emerging entrepreneurs can locate and operate their businesses.
“There are very few support mechanisms to assist Sowetan entrepreneurs to establish and grow their businesses. “The project aims to ensure that entrepreneurs have access to the infrastructure, information and services that are necessary to develop their businesses,” says the official, adding that, apart from promoting the growth of SMMEs, the overall concept is also to provide mentoring, training and other programmes, which include business skills, to facilitate access to basic and advanced business support services and premises.
The site will serve as an incubator offering advisory services on a generic and sectorial basis, including assistance with business planning and financial management, marketing, training and capacity building, including linkages with the appropriate sector education and training authorities, sectorial workshops, networking opportunities and mentorship from larger organisations. Market sectors considered appropriate for the SBEZ are furniture manufacturing, uniforms, protective clothing, corporate gifts, wood pro-ducts and trade – which includes electricians, plumbers, carpenters, shop fitters and welders – the auto service sector, and wholesalers and factory shops.
Edited by: Ollie Madlala
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