New centre to help small Mpumalanga businesses

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Balfour - A R320 000 business development centre that will assist the development of small businesses has been launched in Mpumalanga.

The Imvuselelo Business Development Resources Centre (IBDRC) in Siyathemba township, outside Balfour, was opened on Tuesday.

The centre will be used to assist in the growth and development of small, micro and medium enterprises (SMMEs) in the area. 

The IBDRC is a joint project by mining company Great Basin Gold and the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda).

"The centre was established to assist entrepreneurs in the Dipaleseng local municipality through the provision of business development support to local and career information to pupils and community members," said Great Basin Gold investor relations officer, Tsholofelo Serunye, on Tuesday.

Ms Serunye said levels of poverty, illiteracy and unemployment in the area were high due to the area's reliance on seasonal work in the agricultural sector.

"This creates a need to diversify the economy. One of the key focus areas that would help stimulate the local economy is the development of SMMEs," she said.

She said existing SMMEs in the area could not access opportunities at Great Basin Gold's Burnstone mine, which is 8km away from the nearest community settlement area, making it difficult for poorer community members to access the mine without public transportation.

The IBDRC was established to help community members who travel long distances in search of work.

The proximity of the IBDRC to the Thusong Services Centre, a one-stop information centre established by the department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs in the township, was an added advantage.

"This will ensure visibility and accessibility to those in need of employment and business opportunities from the mine," Ms Serunye said.

Services at the centre include information on establishing and maintaining databases, advice and training, business-to-business linkages, improving access to finance, improving business practices through mentoring and coaching, and improving the information flow to businesses about the commercial opportunities that exist in the area