Empowering Joe Gqabi District business sector

Story: Azonwabe Thukani | Photo: Azonwabe Thukani

In a proactive move to foster economic development and address the challenges faced by Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), the Joe Gqabi District Municipality (JGDM) in collaboration with the Walter Sisulu Local Municipality (WSLM), Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform (DRDAR), Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEDEAT), and other stakeholders, recently convened a two-day Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprise Summit (MSME) at the Limakatso Boutique Hotel in Maletswai. The summit operated under the theme "Building an integrated MSME ecosystem to grow and develop the Joe Gqabi District business sector."

The primary objective of the summit was to strategize for the development of MSMEs, addressing their challenges, and fostering sustainable economic growth within the Joe Gqabi District. Participants engaged in discussions on collaborative efforts, identified areas of cooperation, and highlighted the vital role played by MSMEs in the region's economic landscape.

Cllr. Vania Davids emphasized the significance of the summit by drawing parallels with an Imbizo. “I likened this gathering to a traditional gathering called by a chief or king in response to the needs and cries of the community. This summit serves as a collective effort to address challenges and bridge gaps within the business sector of the Joe Gqabi District.”

Cllr. Unathi Hlathuka echoed the importance of attracting investors to the region. “I would like to emphasize the need for strategic planning and hard work. The value of persistence and hard work can always guarantee success.” She encouraged a continuous effort to improve and highlighted the importance of learning from one's experiences.

Bukeka Buqwana, acknowledging the collaborative support from various entities such as the National Development Agency (NDA), Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC), and the Department of Land Reform and Rural Development (DLRRD), commended the intentional development of MSMEs through the summit. “Benefiting from the initiatives of the Joe Gqabi District, I would like to highlight that such collaboration demonstrates dedication and perseverance towards a common goal of uplifting the business sector in the Joe Gqabi District.”

The participants of the Joe Gqabi District Municipality MSME Summit 2023 committed to working with relevant stakeholders at the national and provincial levels. They pledged to engage with institutions of higher learning to promote and support business initiatives. Additionally, there was a commitment to providing capacity development initiatives for farmers and reducing barriers to entry and market access for farmers in the Joe Gqabi District.

The MSME Summit showcased a collective determination to empower local businesses, stimulate economic growth, and create a thriving business ecosystem in the Joe Gqabi District. As the region moves forward, these collaborative efforts are expected to yield positive outcomes, fostering a conducive environment for MSMEs to flourish and contribute significantly to the district's prosperity.