The City of Cape Town recently launched a workshop series happening all over Cape Town in Bellville, Rylands, Khayelitsha and Mitchell’s Plain focusing on the support and development of micro and informal businesses. In its first round of workshops attendance skyrocketed with almost 100 entrepreneurs attending in each area.
“We want to engage with the community on a local level,” micro enterprise support workshop coordinator Nadia Ringquest explained at the Rylands leg of the project. “We want to disseminate information, but also include an interactive element in order to make these sessions tangible rather than telling what to do,” she explains. The workshop is structured around a communal business assessment in order to establish where businesses present lack in terms of skills, and then follows unto a ‘round-robin’ of breakaway lectures where entrepreneurs choose fields that interest them. For these first rounds of workshops topics discussed in lectures include how to do business with the City of Cape Town, how to engage with the city, costing and pricing, basic record keeping and formulating a business’ vision. During these lectures, entrepreneurs are urged to interact with the lecturers as well as each other, to talk about their experiences and struggles. The workshop was then concluded with a mass networking session where each entrepreneur is given 10 seconds to introduce his or her business.
MEDO CEO Judi Sandrock, in charge of the cost and pricing workshop explains, “micro enterprises are one-man to five-man shops and in this case are often informal businesses. It is a particularly interesting field as you’ll often find that these businesses operate on completely different business models that bigger industries. We’d like to change that.” Judi hosted a range of workshops on the often troubling field of cost and pricing in this regard. “I find that these businesses often have problematic relationships to money, almost feeling guilty to make a profit. But the fact of the matter is, you aren’t sustainable unless you make profit and that means pricing your goods or services according to quality, pricing your time, pricing your risks and under no circumstances give anyone discounts.”
“We’ve realised that many of the businesses have questions around the formalisation of a business, tax and financial management,” Nadia explained. She also furthered that the workshops focus on a severe feedback session in order to find the exact needs of the community and to answer these queries over the next year at the following three workshop series.After two rounds of lectures, the floor was opened for a networking session aimed to get entrepreneurs talking about how they can work together. “We want entrepreneurs to source supplies and products locally, which is why we implement the networking session,” Chiara Baumann project manager and Rylands area representative explains. As the workshop ended the hall was filled with entrepreneurs talking in pairs exchanging business cards. The workshop will again be repeated in February when the entrepreneurs will come together again armed with questions, ready to further their businesses to new heights.
One can only imagine what is to come when the next round of workshops roll around again in February with entrepreneurs, experts and the government work together to build support structures for the local economy. “After all, a rising tide lifts all the boats,” Judi adds.