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Hasanain Abdullah – REHOP showcase event shows micro enterprise green shoots

A social initiative born from the ashes of last year’s devastating rioting and looting, which plagued KwaZulu[1]Natal and Gauteng, has started to show encouraging green shoots.

After Isipingo’s iconic trader’s market was looted and burnt to the ground, destroying the livelihoods of the most vulnerable on the south coast of KZN, several local activists decided to do something about rebuilding hope in the region. Consequently, a broad-based initiative harnessing the diverse skill sets of several Muslim NGOs, business bodies and experts was founded.

Called Rebuilding for Hope and Prosperity (REHOP) the coalition consisted of Awqaf SA, the Minara Business Chamber, the Association of Muslim Accountants and Lawyers (AMAL), AlBaraka Bank, the United Ulama Council of SA (UUCSA), the SA Muslim Charitable Trust, Muslims for Humanity and Growing Hands.

Working in conjunction with the eThekweni Municipality, REHOP went ahead with a project to not only rehabilitate the market, but also to upskill and empower the traders. To this effect, a special Micro Enterprise Development Programme (MEDP) was set up by University of KZN academic expert, Prof Shahida Cassim, which endeavoured to build, enhance and uplift the business skills of the traders.

Recently, REHOP – together with the eThekwini Municipality - hosted a special showcase event in which the top three adjudicated traders, who attended a series of MEDP workshops coordinated by Prof Cassim, were recognised and awarded sponsored prizes from local businesses, Al-Baraka, the Iqraa Trust and Vodacom SA. The first prize was awarded to, Ntombifuthi Ngcobo, the second prize went to, Silindile Ndawonde and the third prize was awarded to Samkelo Mbuyazi.

Vodacom also came on board by offering five traders their Kwika package, one that enables them to sell data and airtime to their customers, thus providing them with an additional vending outlet and source of income.

Councillor Busi Ndlovu, from the Economic Development and Planning Committee of eThekweni, expressed her appreciation of the programme and its exciting potential to help local small businesses.

REHOP executive head, Shabir Chohan, said the showcase was the result of teamwork and dedication. “Our intervention with REHOP occurred at a time when the country, especially KZN, was under siege. We wanted to play a role in rebuilding the economy. We feel our commitment to this small initiative was important to ensure that micro business continued functioning, and more importantly, to operate on a sustainable basis. After a year I can confidently say that we have achieved our objective together with our affiliated organisations.

Hasanain Abdullah – REHOP showcase event shows micro enterprise green shoots
Hasanain Abdullah – REHOP showcase event shows micro enterprise green shoots

What an honour it has been to play this humble role,” he said. Prof Shahida Cassim said it had been a challenging, but hugely rewarding experience, working with the MEDP programme and the traders at grassroots level. “We have, in fact, been working on a prototype with an eye on being able to roll it out nationwide. Small business owners and entrepreneurs in South Africa need to be given accessibility to upskilling opportunities,” she said.

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