Africa, to many across the globe, has always been seen as one village. When travelling, especially in the west, one can never cover enough ground before being asked about a Thabo, or Imani, or Ibu. It is, supposedly, convenient to imagine that people who could be based in areas a thousand or more kilometers away from each other, are in one gigantic province. That perhaps, has always been the story of Africa- an ode to community. A celebration of a fusion of culture and rich history. Perhaps Africa should not look further than the notion of the very thing that it is often misleadingly characterised by a strong sense of community. Misleading because we are more than one community, spread across the length and breadth of the second continent in the world.
South Africa, seen by most as Africa’s proverbial captain of industry and a hub of business sophistication, still has a long way to go in realising a community capable of sustaining the country’s economic growth. The staggering unemployment numbers point fingers at a solution many might not have entertained as they ought to have, albeit it being an open secret. Small and Medium Enterprises- nurtured and supported- have an astronomical chance of creating meaningful employment opportunities. The likes of Bathu, with larger-than-life growth figures, have a nation walking around in what was once only but a dream for a township boy who could afford a pair of shoes. It is now commonplace to see a celebration following the opening of a new store every other week.
For Legend Barbershop’s Sheldon Tatchell, the need to make a difference has always been at the heart and soul of the business. “As long as I can make a contribution to one person at a time, that’s my main goal of cutting hair,” he has commented countless times. His commitment is soon to be witnessed through an establishment of a Legends Barbershop Training Centre, which will enable many other stylists to explore the profitable world of grooming.
Hermosa Flor’s enterprising founder and billboard for African beauty, Mbali Sebapu, has branched out her products’ reach through a partnership with We Are Egg, extending product availability through a platform that will only do well to grow the beauty brand.
In a bid to build Africa, global giant Google has thrown its weight behind providing inclusive growth opportunities for all, enabled by internet connectivity, SMME support and funding initiatives. By addressing the pressing matters of funding and simplified stable access to the internet, it hopes to give local merchants a leg up in digitising their businesses, growing both reach and accessibility in a bid to grow and stabilise such enterprises.
This cocktail of bustling entrepreneurial activity and support from enabling arms of society will go a long way towards creating a sustainable and self-sufficient economy worthy of the community it seeks to serve.