At a milestone event for the province, Lovedale TVET College, in partnership with the department of trade and industry (DTI), launched a new specialised industrial facility in Zwelitsha recently.
The facility is only the second of its kind in the country. This came after the launch of a similar facility at Ekurhuleni East TVET College in December last year.
Specialised industrial facilities (Sifs) are funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and implemented by DTI to support skills development for students and provide technology access to small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs), entrepreneurs, artisans, as well as technical students at TVET (Technical and Vocational Education and Training) Colleges to improve their productivity and create job opportunities.
DTI deputy minister Fikile Majola said strides had been made after a departmental innovation and technology unit study.
“It revealed that most of the township and rural-based entrepreneurs have made many important innovations in bakery, carpentry, furniture-making, motor mechanics and brick making.
“However, the cost of equipment excluded them from becoming industrialists
themselves,” Majola said.
He said that the department was in the process of revitalising the Dimbaza industrial park. Build Afrika Cooperative Brick Manufacturing chairperson Vuyo Yekani said their group of entrepreneurs in the construction industry would benefit from the new facility.
“It means a lot to us as space is expensive and near impossible for SMMEs like us.
“Yes, we received manual equipment to make the bricks but we’ll slowly move to mechanisation.
“We are also looking for investors as we can’t do this without them,” Yekani said.
The college aims to develop a schedule that will enable the outside community to utilise the facilty, while bringing their own material.
Lovedale acting principal Juanita Verster said the college offered courses such as basic business, marketing and financial skills for small businesses.
“There are many small businesses between East London and King William’s Town where spray painting and motor body repairs are being done.
Verster said many small businesses were poorly resourced and in need of support.
Frank Mbalekwa, an SMME owner and project leader, said SMMEs played a meaningful role in job creation, however, there was a high failure rate among start-up businesses.
“We do, however, have a new lease on life using our collective strengths as SMMEs through the training received.”
DTI chief director Nkuli Shinga said a new programme had been established to invest in qualifying black-owned, ruraland townships-based SMMEs with loans of up to R7m per project.