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Last week, Alderman James Vos, the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Economic Growth, visited Northlink College in Belhar to meet the young entrepreneurs participating in a City-funded furniture manufacturing programme. Read more below:

Facilitated by the South African Furniture Initiative (SAFI), the programme is designed to specifically cater to the needs of furniture businesses operating in townships.

‘The healthy development of small businesses is vital for communities and the broader Cape Town economy.  For this reason, I take great pride in the City’s support for initiatives that make a genuinely positive impact in the ventures of Capetonians,’ said Alderman Vos.

As part of the programme, participants receive technical and business knowledge training. They learn to hone their skills on commercial tools such as table saws and bench press drills and are guided through areas such as selling their goods online.

More than 90% of the companies in the South African furniture manufacturing industry are small to medium-sized enterprises. The industry employed just under 34 800 people in 2018 with another 7 700 employed in the informal sector before Covid-19.

Programmes such as the SAFI partnership are an example of the City’s efforts to rebuild manufacturing industries from the ground up.

According to Bernadette Isaacs, Managing Director of SAFI, these programmes form part of the Furniture Industry Master Plan’s (FIMP) vision to grow the local furniture manufacturing industry.

‘In the current economic climate, localisation and supporting the local value chain is key in the industry’s potential to become a major contributor to the country’s GDP,’ said Isaacs.

The furniture manufacturing programme is one of several such initiatives funded by the City for traders, enterprises and start-ups.

The City’s Business Helpdesk has a calendar of around 30 skills development sessions for Capetonian entrepreneurs that cover topics ranging from costing and pricing of products, to tendering and business improvement strategies. The Helpdesk, which is also known as The Business Hub, has a dedicated team answering queries by phone, email, and in-person at their Cape Town CBD office and during community activations.

The metro government also works closely with partners to facilitate further programmes that make life easier for businesses.

These are:

  • The City funds the Productivity Efficiency Programme facilitated by Productivity SA wherein small businesses receive an onsite assessment and then detailed guidance on how to improve operations
  • The Smart Supplier programme which prepares businesses for engaging with buyers in the private sector
  • The Business Mentorship Programme where young entrepreneurs are mentored over 10 months by experienced business owners
  • Business Development workshops facilitated by the SA Renewable Energy Business Incubator for aspirant Green Economy entrepreneurs

‘By providing support systems for small businesses, we are building an economy of confidence and care because these platforms will encourage more aspiring entrepreneurs to set up shop in their areas, which will stimulate supply, create jobs, and generate growth where they live,’ said Alderman Vos.

For more information on these business support platforms, visit The Business Hub or contact the team on business.support@capetown.gov.za or 021 417 4043.

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