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2008-07-17: Graduation of informal sector entrepreneurs

WITS University in cooperation with the City of Joburg is hosting a graduation ceremony for 550 informal sector entrepreneurs who have successfully completed a business improvement, training course.

The ceremony will be held on Sunday 20 July 2008 from 11.00 in the Great Hall, East Campus.

Jason Ngobeni, Executive Director for Economic Development in the City says, "This is the culmination of a six month Basic Business Skills training programme which is such an important project".

"We are all excited to witness the graduation of these traders who have put so much effort to learn about the art of running a business as well as improve their literacy. This graduation will not end here as a ceremony but will evolve into the growth of some of these businesses into the first economy."

"I do not think that there is another City in this country that invests and creates as much opportunities for informal trade as the City of Joburg. We have over the past four years built a solid partnership with Wits University to provide training and development of informal traders, this combination and commitment has allowed us to train 2000 traders since 2005", says Ngobeni.

The training, coordinated by Wits Enterprise the commercial company of Wits University, has been contracted by the City of Joburg to provide the training to informal sector entrepreneurs since 2004.

This is the fourth year that the programme has been offered and a total of 2000 traders have been trained over the period.

Professional, instructional designers to ensure its accessibility by the participants subsequently packaged the material, developed by a Wits academic.

"The School for Economic and Business Science in conjunction with Students In Free Enterprise (SIFE), a voluntary student organisation dedicated to the upliftment and empowerment of South African micro- and subsistence entrepreneurs put together and trained a team of facilitators for the project", says Dr Johan Swanepoel, Short Course Manager for Wits Enterprise.

In order to ensure maximum success, various quality assurance measures have been put in place.  Three Wits academics were continuously monitoring the progress of the project.

Dr Swanepoel says, "The formal training covered basic fundamentals of Small Business Management such as main elements of a business plan, budgeting and basic financial management, pricing, marketing, making a business grow, sustaining a small business, legislative imperatives on small businesses, metro legislative requirements, sourcing finance, and networking".

 Wits Enterprise was in charge of the project management of the project, ensuring that an enabling environment is created to optimise learning.

An additional component, Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET) has been added to the project. 200 traders were part of this course to ensure that they have the required literacy level when they enrol for business skills training in 2009.

A total of 25 facilitators were used and every facilitator was allocated 20 learners who attended one formal three-hour training session a week for 14 weeks.

An exhibition was held last week to bring the traders in contact with a variety of role players in the financial and or business environment and give exhibitors the opportunity to show informal traders what support is available in general for SMME's as well as market specific products.