South Africa’s economic growth and inclusion of black businesses will be highlighted on Wednesday next week.
The first Black Industrialists and Black Exporters Conference will take place at the Sandton Convention Center next week, attracting both the public and private sectors. The event is expected to attract over 500 delegates.
Ebrahim Patel, the Minister for Trade, Industry and Competition, spoke to the media on Thursday and said the conference was an opportunity to review how far the nation has come in terms of economic inclusion.
There will be five main sections at the conference. The launch of important growth initiatives like the Black Export Network, several roundtables, a marketplace showcasing products made by small businesses, and President Cyril Ramaphosa’s keynote address are among them.
“The fourth will be the Presidential Awards that will be given out for business excellence. The last part of it will be the publication of research findings on the impact of various policy measures to promote economic inclusion and increase grassroots participation in our economy,” he said.
Minister Patel said the spotlight at the conference will be the 500 companies “making, developing and digging things, adding to GDP, employing South Africans, exploiting their products. It’s about emphasizing the opportunities they have to grow the economy.”
He claimed they were business owners skilled in creating and producing goods such as food, chemicals, cosmetics and other products.
“We will also look at structures that limit opportunities for black shareholders to play a meaningful role in the economy,” he said.
The government has not created industrialists, but it has created an enabling and enabling environment that helps or hinders industrialists to succeed.
Black-owned businesses face the same obstacles as other types of businesses.
“They have difficulty getting raw materials on time, at reasonable prices, getting the right technology, [and] fix the technology when it breaks down.
“[They have challenges of] getting a great team of managers and workers, training everyone, putting the infrastructure in place, including the public infrastructure they need, finding customers – let’s call these traditional business problems.
Additionally, black businesses struggle with a lack of access to capital and financing.
He said the government launched the Black Industrialists Program to address this issue and find ways to foster entrepreneurship despite these obstacles.
Many elements of the program will be discussed at the conference by the government.
“We work in partnership with companies [that] work with black suppliers, bringing them into the supply chain. This has been replicated in many other sectors of the economy,” he said.
The initiative was one component of a larger and more comprehensive program for black economic empowerment at the societal level.
These, he says, include worker ownership, union investment plans, and women-owned community plans that pool capital before determining how to raise a company’s equity.