Township and rural economies to change the development narrative

The face of township and rural economies where unemployment, poverty and inequality are still rampant is fast changing, thanks to a successful public-private partnership which recognises the potential for emerging enterprises to contribute towards job creation and the mainstream economy.

To ensure their sustainability and competitiveness, government is intensifying its support to township enterprises. As a catalyst for job creation, SMMEs are seen to be the solution to the country’s unemployment woes and the achievement of the National Development Plan’s objective of creating 11 million jobs by 2030.

A three-year partnership between Sumitomo Rubber SA’s iconic brand, Dunlop, and Ithala Development Finance Corporation’s Small Business Growth Enterprise division will see a minimum of 25 containerised tyre fitment centres being established across KwaZulu-Natal and 100 jobs created.

“Sumitomo has been driving this initiative since 2013 and currently has over 100 Dunlop containers across our country’s nine provinces. We are proud to be the only tyre company in SA to partner with rural and township areas to grow communities,” said Yvette Govender, Director: Marketing & Business Development at Sumitomo Rubber SA.

“The programme not only opens the economy to this sector but counters the growing number of illegal, dangerous second-hand tyres being sold to consumers. Our programme has opened doors for us to partner with government and SOEs enabling all parties to play an active role in eradicating poverty and growing our economy.”

Informal tyre trading containers in townships and rural areas are transformed into Dunlop-branded containers which provide opportunities for unemployed youth, women and aspiring business owners to be trained and mentored in tyre sales and repair. Technical tyre training and business mentorship are provided jointly by Sumitomo and Ithala.

Under this partnership, Ithala has allocated funding totaling R4.1m over the three-year partnership agreement for the supply, branding and fitment of containers.

The initiative aims to nurture, grow and sustain small business enterprises in KZN and create employment in and around the province. To date, the partnership has resulted in five container businesses being awarded in Estcourt, Ladysmith, Madadeni, Esikhaleni and Eshowe.

The Dunlop Container Tyre Fitment Centre programme forms part of the KZN Revitalisation of Township and Rural Economies policy framework spearheaded by the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs and is closely aligned with Ithala’s mandate to develop township and rural economies.

“For far too long, micro-entrepreneurs trading in marginalised communities have been yearning to participate in the mainstream economy,” said Themba Mathe, Acting Group Chief Executive at Ithala.

“As a development finance institution, we remain steadfast in our commitment to championing development in poor and marginalised communities and investing in people to enable an improved quality of life and improved prosperity.

“We fully support the call by government to put youth, women, people with disabilities and historically marginalised communities at the forefront of the socio-economic transformation agenda.”

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