Sherwyn Weaich, Sindi Shangase, Denver Govender Picture: Steven Brown (S&A Marketing)

Durban - Despite a rocky lead up to the 2018 Regional Business Fair, the city is confident that the event was a resounding success. The annual event was held in Umlazi’s KwaMnyandu Shopping Mall at the weekend and attracted a total of 13 561 buyers.

eThekwini Municipality mayor, Zandile Gumede said small township businesses are the main role-players in job creation.

“It is for this reason that we will continue to invest in growing township economies because they contribute to alleviating poverty, creating employment and eradicating inequality,” she said.

First time exhibitor, Dumisile Dlomo, said the platform assisted her to market her business as well as to network with potential buyers and owners of other small and emerging businesses.

Dlomo is the owner of Snqobangaye Traditional Clothing which produces traditional isiZulu regalia and traditional colourful beaded accessories.

“You could tell that the municipality went all out to ensure the exhibition was well marketed judging by the number of buyers who visited our stands. We are eternally grateful. The response has been very positive and I am certain my business will grow from strength to strength after this opportunity," she said. 

The fair did not only benefit exhibitors but empowered a number of aspiring and emerging entrepreneurs through the Business Indaba which focused on contractor development as well as township and rural economy revitalisation.

Executives from the provincial Department of Public Works and the municipality’s Economic Development and Investment Promotion Unit presented projects in the pipeline which are aimed at uplifting the township economy.

An announcement which received huge applause was of the municipality’s light industrial park incubator which will be constructed at the KwaMnyandu Shopping Centre. This will house the area’s small, medium and micro-sized enterprises. It was announced that the preferred contractor was awarded last week and that construction will commence soon. 

Furthermore, the Business Indaba brought esteemed businesspeople under one roof who shared relevant tips to build a sustainable business. Prominent speakers included Clive Manci of Oteo Investment Holdings and Jabulani Zama founder of a popular and successful entertainment establishment, Eyadini Lounge in uMlazi. 

The second day of the Indaba highlighted social entrepreneurship to find innovative solutions to make a positive impact in people’s lives.

Businesspeople in the social entrepreneurship industry encouraged attendees of the Indaba to explore ideas that would not only generate an income but also bring about developmental transformation in society.

Social entrepreneur Nonhlanhla Joye of Umgibe Farming Organics said she started her businesses with the idea of financially supporting her family. Her innovative planting method of constructing umgibe – a system which allows for gardens to be elevated from the ground - is now globally recognised.

In another panel discussion – Business of Fashion and Industry Opportunities – industry experts encouraged emerging business owners to set goals and to work hard towards achieving them.

Futhi Mkhize, founder of Ubuhle and Lillybelle, said there has been a noticeable growth in the local beauty industry.

“The beauty industry in eThekwini is growing due to the flourishing TV industry within the City. Make-up artists have to be on set for shoots,” she said. Mkhize cited local television shows such as Uzalo and Imbewu as contributors to the increased demand for beauty services.

New elements, which made their debut to the Fair with the aim of broadening the impact of the programme, were well received. A total of 80 people received free lessons for three consecutive days from African beading and pottery experts. 

Another highlight of the fair was the ‘eKasi Innovation Challenge’ which hosted six high schools from the south region who were tasked to solve the vagrancy challenge currently facing eThekwini. The aim of the Programme was to unleash young people’s creativity.

The Film masterclass, which attracted mostly tertiary drama students, was another huge success. The masterclass, which was addressed by Leleti Khumalo of Sarafina fame and Imbewu executives, unpacked everything that goes into a film production. 

The masterclass, which was preceded by a visit to the studios of the new eTV daily drama Imbewu on 24 July, provided practical experience for trainees and also presented funding opportunities. 

Flavours of Durban was headlined by celebrity chefs Lucia Mthiyane and Sherwyn Weaich who took centre stage during the three-day programme with approximately 700 aspiring chefs paying rapt attention to their cooking lessons. 

The Mercury