Sarah Mathebula, 32, of Diepsloot, runs a vegetable business in the informal settlement and it is her only source of income.
Mathebula, a mother of five, arrived in Diepsloot in 2001. With no education, she started selling sweets, saving every rand.
Diepsloot has an estimated population of more than 250000 and is notorious for street justice, crime, unemployment and poverty.
So for many residents like Mathebula the only way to survive is to start a business.
“I would love to get support from the government or the city authorities to expand my business and get a proper place to trade.”
Mathebula said the relationship between the many small businesses in the area and the new entrants – Somalis and Pakistani nationals – was now good.
She is one of the 400 members of the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry, who have now been organised to achieve economic growth in the area.
Phineas Letsoalo, project coordinator of the Diepsloot Chamber of Business, said the organisation started in May last year and faced many challenges on its path.
His chamber will be part of the Sacci’s conference, gala dinner and exhibition, that will be held at the Sandton Convention Centre on Monday and Tuesday.
Sowetan, the print media partner of the conference, will give an opportunity to 50 SMMEs and entrepreneurs to attend the convention for free.
To secure a seat contact the convention secretariat on 011-676-3467 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org and use the Reference SOWETAN. Offer closes today at 12pm.
“The first challenge was the political landscape. You will find that developmental projects go through a political office and often information is not accessible to entrepreneurs,” he said.
He said another big challenge was that businesses were not formalised and do not even have addresses.
This, he said, increase the risk for banks and investors who would identify business opportunity in Diepsloot.
“People do not even Iknow how to register their businesses and they use whatever land is available without going through proper channels. Corrupt officials then utilised this ignorance and solicit rent from these businesses,” he said.
Mathebula said the business community in informal settlements needed to be organised and his chamber has started to engage developmental agencies to assist entrepreneurs in Diepsloot.
via The means to survive – Sowetan LIVE.