Essence Festival Business Conference kicks off with tangible benefits for SMMEs

Date: 26 September 2017
Essence Festival Business Conference kicks off with tangible benefits for SMMEs


Image Courtesy Essence Festival Durban 

The Essence Festival Durban 2017 has kicked off with real benefits for small medium sized businesses attending the first day of the 6-day festival at the Durban International Convention Centre.

The major highlight of day 1 of the festival was a pledge by billionaire businessman and native of Durban, Vivian Reddy to Handsome Msomi, a small business owner, that provides logistics services through his Sengikwenzile Logistics company. Responding to Msomi’s plea for assistance for funding after winning his first contract to provide 20 trucks to a mining operation in Vryheid, Reddy pledged to assist Msomi with securing funding and business mentoring.


“We are going to help you secure funding, we are going to mentor you and make sure your business succeeds”, said Reddy.


An elated Msomi attributed his successful start of the conference to the inspiration he has drawn from the Essence Festival which he attended for the first-time last year,


“I have been pursuing this dream of building my business for the last six years. The support from Mr. Reddy is exactly what I need to get my business off the ground”, said Msomi. 


The public pledge by Reddy underscores the promise of the Essence Festival Durban of “Firing Africa with Inspiration”. Msomi who is wheelchair bound after being diagnosed with TB meningitis has defied his disability from deterring him away from his entrepreneurial dream and passion.

Msomi and many other aspirant small business owners are responding to the call by the Executive Mayor of Durban, Cllr. Zandile Gumede, who called on local SMMEs “to seize the opportunity to showcase their skills and products in the exhibitions, which will give them a platform to better their craft for global competitiveness”.

In welcoming delegates and international visitors from the United States and other parts of the African continent, Gumede said the investment to host the Essence Festival is a commitment to the implementation of the radical economic transformation framework which seeks to benefit black owned businesses or enterprises that were previously disadvantaged during apartheid. An approximate budget of R1,3 billion has been set aside by the City of Ethekwini for programmes throughout the metro over the next three years to incubate business entities that trade within Ethekwini Municipality for a period of 6 months. The program is pioneered by Supply Chain Management and Business Support, Tourism and Markets Units.


“The intention is to create opportunities that will benefit SMMEs and Co-operatives as part of the Integrated Radical Economic Transformation Programme (IRETP). The Expression of Interest is currently being advertised and will close on 29 September 2017”, said Gumede.


“The Essence Festival Durban will give us an opportunity to market, our city to global markets, especially the USA, which is one of our key source markets in terms of inbound tourists. We believe that this exposure will give us the much-needed competitive advantage with all global cities and huge returns in terms of tourism revenue. Moreover, the skills exchange and transfer that comes with the seminars and workshops that will be part of the Essence Festival Durban will give us an opportunity to create a legacy” Gumede added.


Other key speakers at the business conference, such Dr Judy Dlamini, Chairperson, Mbekani Investment Holdings Limited, emphasised the need to broaden the scope of business participation for black entrepreneurs, especially African and women owned enterprises. Dlamini said after 24 years since the dawn of democracy, South Africa should be able to demonstrate a significant number of successful businesses that have been created through transformation. She also expressed concern at how Africans were still missing out from the many transformative business opportunities that are made available to a broader section of designated black groups.


“I am interested in looking at what it would take to achieve transformation that bears equality in terms of gender and race. We should also avoid a situation that says small business equals to black while big business equals to white”, said Dlamini.


For delegates attending the Essence business conference on Wednesday, 27 September 2017 they can look forward to discussions on topics that cover the role of development finance institutions in radical economic transformation, with funding of small business being the central theme of the day. Speakers from the United States and South Africa will share insights on the promotion of growth and competitiveness of black owned businesses.


“The Cosatu national strike on Wednesday, 27 September 2017, will have no impact on the proceedings of the Essence Festival business conference. Therefore, people should turn out in their numbers to listen and draw inspiration on topics of pertinence to their lives and the economy of the city”, said Philip Sithole, Deputy City Manager, Economic Development and Planning Cluster.


For more information visit, #ESSENCEFestDBN / #ESSENCEFestDBN17 @dbnexperience



Proceedings on Wednesday, 27 September will commence with an address from the Minister of Small Businesses, Ms Lindiwe Zulu at 08h30, at the Durban ICC.

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