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Cape Town - Small business people do not generate the type of money big corporations do, but there is no doubt they create jobs and play a key role in the economy.

Their quest to become effective players in the economy was celebrated at the inaugural Black Business Chamber Grassroots Business Accelerator Competition 2014 Dinner and Awards Ceremony last night.

The event followed two weeks of training, after which the business owners presented their business plans to a panel of independent adjudicators to win a share of R30 000.

Twenty of them became finalists in the Grassroots Business Accelerator Competition and last night they received awards in recognition of their entrepreneurship.

At the prestigious event they were encouraged by the key speakers, Minister of Small Business Development Lindiwe Zulu, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Senzeni Zokwana and the chairman of Sekunjalo Group and Independent Newspapers, Dr Iqbal Survé.

Several industry leaders and a number of government officials attended the function, held at a central Cape Town hotel.

Small business owner Linda Khaya Nongomaza, who runs a chicken farm in Philippi, said the support of the Black Business Chamber had helped him to grow his business.

“This is what I needed long ago. I’m pleased,” he said.

Another finalist, Yandisa Mlonyeni – who runs her gas refills business from a container in Langa – said the two-week training course had taught her to improvise and overcome difficulties her business experienced.

Zokwana said he was inspired by the entrepreneurial spirit of the finalists and what they were doing to grow their businesses.

He praised the support the Black Business Chamber had offered the small business people and said he believed this would continue their support.

Survé said development in in townships was almost non-existent, but that had started to change about 12 years ago when he had established a body where aspiring business people from the townships could receive support in the form of business plans among others.

Zulu saluted the finalists and said they did not wait for opportunities, but rather created it themselves.

“These are the people who decided they are not going to wait for anyone to create opportunities for them. They were prepared and rolled up their sleeves. They are crying out for help. They are crying out for financial support and they are crying out for the government to assist in any way.”

Finalist Yolande Stober, who has an enterprise in tourism, said the competition gave her and other small business people an opportunity to grow their businesses.

She appreciated the recognition and was enriched by the training.

One of her challenges was the need for financial support to grow her business further. - Cape Times