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“After our people voted for the first time in 1994, they went to sleep. There were no longer supermarkets owned by the Khumalos, no dairy shops run by the Maponyas. People need to know that freedom is all about economic development. That’s why the City of Johannesburg is opening Opportunity Centres.”

These were the sentiments of the Executive Mayor of the City of Johannesburg, Cllr Herman Mashaba, at the opening of the Simunye Opportunity Centre at Danie van Zyl Recreation Centre in Montclare, west of the inner city, today 27 June 2019.

Mashaba encouraged attendees to rise from their slumber and create jobs to fight poverty.

Simunye is the seventh opportunity centre opened by Mayor Mashaba. The first centre was opened in 2017 in Marshalltown. They all form part of a planned 14 spread across all of the City’s seven regions.

“I have two years left in my administration. I want to leave a legacy. The opportunity centres that the City has been opening do not service our residents based on their political and religious affiliations.

“The City is on the move. Joblessness has hit the youth the hardest. There is hopelessness and despair. For millions in the townships, it’s a dream truly deferred. But through the opportunity centres, we’ll pull the youth out the cliff,” Mayor Mashaba said.

Accompanied by the Member of the Mayoral Committee (MMC) for Economic Development, Cllr Leah Knott, Mayor Mashaba had earlier opened the Atlehang Opportunity Centre at the Soweto Empowerment Zone in Diepkloof Zone 6.

MMC Knott said the centres were a culmination of the roadshows the City undertook to consult young entrepreneurs about their needs.

“The centres are making a real change in people. A mother told me recently that her unemployed daughter was depressed and had lost the will to live. Fortunately, she was able to access help at the Marshall Street Opportunity Centre and she’s now employed,” said MMC Knott.

She noted that job creation was not a local government competency but the City was stepping up to the task, creating a conducive environment within the municipality in which businesses can thrive.

Services offered at opportunity centres include:

Business-to-business networking opportunities
Regular business information workshops on business-related topics
Access to meeting and training rooms
Tender facilitation
Funding facilitation
Access to business opportunities
Referrals to quality business development service providers, government resources and financial institutions
Internet access for business and idea generation
Legal advice