Buy local and save jobs, says eThekwini Municipality
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Durban - THE ETHEKWINI Municipality, in partnership with Proudly South African, encouraged people to assist in saving jobs and creating employment by supporting local small medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs).
The appeal was made yesterday during the municipality’s Buy Local, Invest Local Summit and Expo held at the Durban International Convention Centre. More than 15 local companies attended the event.
The plea came at a time when small local businesses in townships were at their weakest due to many factors including the Covid-19 pandemic.
eThekwini Speaker Weziwe Thusi said the “buy local” campaign was designed to demand support for local products and services awareness among big businesses, investors, and consumers. She announced that the city would drive a media campaign aimed at encouraging the community to support local businesses.
“This will assist businesses to stand out for local consumers while keeping the money in the communities and contributing to bringing about a higher level of welfare in the community. It will strengthen the local economy, assist in job creation and help sustain skills within eThekwini Municipality.”
She said the city had partnered with the Department of Trade Industry and Proudly SA, and other agencies to take businesses to the next level.
Proudly SA chief executive officer Eustace Mashimbye said the request to support local brands was primarily informed by the staggering job losses in the country as local businesses were struggling to compete with established businesses.
“More than 11 million people are unemployed. This number can only be reduced if we start exporting our goods rather than importing them. If no one buys from local businesses more jobs will be lost and more people will suffer.”
Mashimbye explained that countries such as the United States of America and China with some of the largest populations were able to provide jobs for their people because they prioritised their local businesses and reduced imports.
Deputy City manager Phillip Sithole said the municipality would market businesses across the city and beyond. He explained that the selected companies who would benefit from the project followed a verification process and the shortlisted were invited to introduce themselves and the services they rendered.
eThekwini’s deputy head of supply chain management Zandile Sithole said local businesses needed to be supported as they continued to struggle under the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We follow procurement rules and ensure that we grow small businesses within the parameters of the law. Our main target is empowering the youth, people with disabilities, women, and indigent households.”
She said the City set aside more than R135 million for projects including grass-cutting, office cleaning, street maintenance and weed control.
Lungile Mthembu from Van der Merwe Poultry said she was excited to be part of the project and looked forward to benefiting from it.
“We hope that this initiative will help us promote our businesses in deep rural areas because we need exposure. eThekwini Municipality and the Department of Agriculture have already assisted to keep us afloat when we were hit by the pandemic. We were rescued because we could not keep the business running.”