6 Initiatives That Put Township Entrepreneurship In Focus

Posted on December 26th, 2017
Ajay Banga, Mastercard CEO (right), discusses the benefits of mobile payments with SME owner, Paul Makuleke.


If South Africa is to see significant economic growth,  the township economy needs to be developed, Premier David Makhura said earlier this year at the launch of the Barloworld SME Incubation Programme according to Huffington Post SA. “If you want to find more black people, more black entrepreneurs, you’re going to find them in the townships.”

South Africa’s townships have always been a hive of entrepreneurial activity, but the challenges that entrepreneurs in the township face, such as lack of access [to resources], infrastructure and skills, have stood in the way of unlocking its full potential in order to generate broader economic benefits.

There are efforts to develop township entrepreneurs from government initiatives such as the Township Economy Revitalisation Strategy, and Tshepo 1 Million; and global giants like Mastercard and Airbnb this year announced that they would be investing in both the township economy and its entrepreneurs. There is also a greater effort to shine the spotlight on township entrepreneurs such as the newly launched e.tv series Business Battle which profiles and celebrates entrepreneurs who were chosen for the 2017 Township Entrepreneur Awards (TEA).

Collaboration leads to opportunities – Here are 6 initiatives that contributed to the development of township entrepreneurship this year.

1. Airbnb Partners With Ikhaya Le Langa To Develop Township-based Tourism Entrepreneurs

The first 9 graduates of the Ikhaya Le Langa programme. Image: www.Ikhayalelang.co.za

Airbnb earlier this year partnered with local enterprise precinct Ikhaya le Langa on a programme to help boost township economies as places where businesses can flourish.

The programme helps owners of hotel and lodgings to develop their knowledge of township culture and history, learn tourism business skills and improve users’ lodging experience.

The first 9 graduates of the programme were announced this year. All nine of the entrepreneurs are women from the Langa Quarter.

In addition to boosting their skills, the participants of the programme also get major traction for their businesses. Their services will be made available on Airbnb.

Airbnb also announced in October this year that they would invest $1 million through 2020 to promote and support community-led tourism projects in Africa.

2. Sumitomo Rubber SA Creates Jobs With Launch Of New Tyre Fitment Centres

Dunlop SA-edited
Themba Mathe (left) acting group CEO for Ithala Development Corporation

Ithala Development Corporation, Sumitomo Rubber SA and Dunlop announced this year that they would be making job creation in SA townships a priority.

The initiative aims to establish a minimum of 25 containerised tyre fitment centres across KwaZulu-Natal townships and rural areas and create 100 jobs in the process.

Sumitomo has been behind the initiative together with Dunlop since 2013, but this year extended the term of the partnership to an additional three years in order to further boost township and rural economies.

3. Absa Invests In The Transformation Of Spaza Shops

Absa Bank this year set aside R10,5 million for eSpaza Sum Holdings to uplift and modernise 22 spaza shops in Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Limpopo, in order to contribute towards the transformation of township economies.

eSpaza has helped to accelerate the transformation of 100% black-owned spaza shops into sustainable businesses that can compete with major retailers. They do this by providing access to markets, procurement, distribution channels and stock at competitive prices in partnership with Big Save, one of South Africa’s largest wholesalers. They also hold monthly store promotions on behalf of spaza shops.

Absa’s role in the project is to provide the spaza shops that are part of the project with the required banking solutions to run a formal business and provide them with financial literacy training.

4. Mastercard And Spazapp Connect Informal SMEs To Formal Markets

Ajay Banga, Mastercard CEO (right), discusses the benefits of mobile payments with SME owner, Paul Makuleke.

Mastercard this year announced they were collaborating with Durban-based tech company Spazapp, to help informal micro-businesses like spaza shops connect to formal markets and provide digital payment systems, by providing them with secure and convenient mobile payments. Spazapp is a money-saving android application.

Through this partnership, Mastercard has integrated its global digital wallet Masterpass into Spazapp. Using Spazapp, traders can order a wide variety of products at competitive prices using Masterpass to digitally pay for stock and accept cashless payments from their customers with their mobile phones.

5. Gauteng Township Economy Business Week Empowers Entrepreneurs

Lebane Maluleke, CEO of the Gauteng Enterprise Propeller (GEP) speaking at GTEB Week.

The annual Gauteng Township Economy Business Week addresses the challenges township businesses face, and possible solutions.

The initiative was hosted in collaboration with South African Black Entrepreneurs Forum (SABEF), a non-profit organisation that aims to build and promote entrepreneurship. Some of the key challenges discussed this year included the excessive red tape township entrepreneurs face, and competition from foreign nationals. The event also offered a guide for accessing funding.

This year’s event hosted top entrepreneurs and business leaders like Lebo Gunguluza of Dragon’s Den fame and president of SABEF, Lebane Maluleke, chief operating officer of the Gauteng Enterprise Propeller (GEP), Jayshree Naidoo, head of the Standard Bank incubator programme, and Tebogo Ditshego, founder of public relations company, Ditshego Media.