File Image: Transnet Port Terminals chief executive, Nozipho Sithole.

PIETERMARITZBURG - An SMME Development programme sponsored by Transnet port terminals (TPT) in partnership with  Economic Development Tourism & Environmental Affairs identified 9 youth owned rural co-operatives in KwaZulu-Natal were ensured sustainability and growth. 

They received barbed-wire and tissue manufacturing machines since the start of the programme in 2013. The 9 cooperatives were not only trained in the manufacturing sector but in business management skills as well to equip them to manage their businesses once the machines had been delivered. 

A number of high-profile dignitaries were present for the official ceremony including the KZN MEC, Sihle Zikalala, Mayor of Umvoti Local Municipality, Cllr Thami Ngubane, and Transnet Port Terminals’ Chief Executive (CE), Nozipho Sithole. 

“This event marks the completion of an SMME Development programme by TPT that was run in conjunction with Economic Development Tourism & Environmental Affairs (EDTEA) and the Coastal TVET College in Hammarsdale. It has provided a boost of more than R2 million to youth owned rural cooperatives in KwaZulu-Natal through the supply of barbed-wire and toilet paper manufacturing machines. It is so rewarding to see cooperatives thrive when given the right type of financial and business support to succeed,” stated Thandi Sabelo, TPT Executive Manager for Procurement. 

Previous handovers of equipment by TPT benefitted not only the lives of the youth who own these cooperatives in the programme, but the communities where they live as well. One such example was witnessed recently when TPT through a partnership with another co-operative from the programme, Sibambisane CC, helped to revamp Buhlebuzile Primary School in the Pongola area and provided the disadvantaged learners with new school shoes and uniforms. 

In his address, the KZN MEC, Sihle Zikalala, said that the success of the cooperatives like Amakhabelo cc demonstrated that if the government and the private sector continue to work together, they will contribute more to the lives of SA’s people. “It is undeniable that owing to the country’s employment figures, the unemployment rate is at a worrying level. It stands at 27%. We all have to work together to ensure that we address the hopelessness among the youth and therefore position them and place them to participate in building the future of our country. We’d like to urge and encourage our young people to adopt a more favourable outlook toward entrepreneurship and cooperatives. The fact is that SMME’s and cooperatives have a great role to play in the economy of our country.