Durban - The Durban Business Fair (DBF) kicked off yesterday at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre.
eThekwini Municipality councillor Busi Ndlovu said the DBF, which was celebrating its 20th anniversary, had become the city’s most esteemed programme and attracted international attention.
“The fair reinforces the city’s commitment to providing support to small-, medium- and micro-enterprises, and encouraging their involvement in the economy,” said Ndlovu.
Deputy city manager for economic development and planning Phillip Sithole said the fair - which runs until September 24 - had contributed more than R200million to local gross domestic produce in its lifespan.
“The services and products provided to the fair are supplied by small businesses, so it creates opportunities for small businesses,” said Sithole.
Masterclasses in film and music were introduced this year.
“We want people in the film and music industries to understand the potential, and what they need to do to tap into the opportunities,” he said.
Sithole said delegates had been invited from across Africa to make the DBF an international event.
“Delegates from more than 10countries in Africa are here, including mayors, ambassadors, consuls-general and chief executives,” he said.
Sithole said the city had ensured high school pupils were part of the fair.
“They’ve come up with their own innovations in the regional fairs and will participate in the masterclasses,” he said.
During the Business Indaba panel discussion yesterday, industry influencers shared their expertise and life experiences with local entrepreneurs.
Sihle Ndlela, the co-owner of Majozi Bros Construction, said young people needed to learn to stop depending on the government and “create their own opportunities”.
With regard to new technologies, Joe Odhiambo, chief executive of Agreement South Africa, said: “Adapt or adopt or die.”
Dr Daniel Visser, research and development strategy manager for the CSIR, said: “Don’t be scared of innovation - embrace it, because it can help your life in so many ways.”
The chief executive of KZN Oils, Rajen Reddy, closed the discussion by advising people to keep it simple and stick to the basics.
“Spend 80% of your time on the basics and be only 20% innovative,” he said.