The walk-in centre is situated at the Jozi SME Hub in the Soweto Empowerment Zone on Chris Hani Road in Diepkloof.
“We are indeed open for business,” said Soweto Branch Supervisor Gugu Khonjelwayo.
The Business Place is a long-standing partner of the City of Johannesburg in the development of aspirant businesspeople in the city. Last year, the agency played a critical role during the registration of community-based companies and cooperatives that wanted to tap into business opportunities brought about by the advent of the City’s R3-billion mass empowerment and job creation programme Jozi@Work.
The Business Place’s walk-in centre in Diepkloof handles queries such as how to start a business, register a company or access free training. The office is manned by four staffers, who attend to and assist an average of 30 people a day. In the past, Soweto residents had to travel all the way to Marshalltown in the city centre to access such services.
On Friday July 31 representatives of The Business Place were on hand at a cooperatives workshop held at the Jabulani Civic Centre, Soweto, and organised by the City to assist aspirant businesspeople in the township. Nobambo Mutloane, an Operational Manager at the civic centre, officials of The Business Place and of the banking group Absa, as well as representatives of other support services fielded several questions and provided information on various business aspects. Many of the people wanted to know the status of their registration for Jozi@Work.
Mutloane said though most registration certificates had been issued, some of the applicants had not yet collected them from The Business Place’s offices in the city centre.
“We could not get hold of some of the applicants because they had changed phone numbers. Today we wanted to inform them that all certificates will be delivered here at the Jabulani Civic Centre on Monday (August 3).
“From Tuesday (August 4), people can collect them from Solly Monakgeng or Zweli Mavundla on the Ground Floor of the civic centre during working hours,” she said.
“Our partners The Business Place continue to give excellent business support. They will help people with the writing of business profiles and drawing up of business plans. They will also provide free internet access to enable people to conduct research or check the availability of business opportunities. We will also run workshops and outreach meetings like this one to empower people,” she said.
For Khonjelwayo, the most pressing questions on Friday were how people could amend company registrations, add or remove inactive members and the costs involved. Sibusiso Dlamini, of Absa’s Enterprise Development Unit in Jabulani, said such forums were important because people needed more information on a wide range of issues, including funding.
“Most people don’t have knowledge of how to do things. They don’t know the market. Some don’t even have business plans when they approach the bank to apply for loans because they have not done enough research. So these collaborations with the City and The Business Place are necessary and very useful. We are encouraging people to visit the branch for help. Those with access can check our website or call centre for help. We will help once the needs analysis is done,” Dlamini said.
One of the 50 entrepreneurs who attended the workshop was Lebogang Mothopi, of Lebut Solutions in Protea Glen, Soweto. He left the session reinvigorated.
“I have hope and trust in this process. The City is trying to help us fight poverty. We’ve to have the energy and enthusiasm. We lack information and this outreach programme will help us,” he said.