It takes a village to drive sustainable economic growth

Africa has always been viewed as a village to many around the world. When traveling, especially in the west, you can never cover enough ground before being asked for a thabo or imani or ibu. It’s supposedly convenient to imagine that people who might live in areas a thousand or more kilometers apart are in one vast province. This may have always been the story of Africa – an ode to community. A celebration of the merging of culture and rich history. Perhaps Africa should not go beyond the notion that it is often misleadingly characterized by a strong sense of community. Misleading because we are more than one community spread across the length and breadth of the world’s second continent.

South Africa, regarded by most as Africa’s proverbial captain of industry and center of business development, still has a long way to go in realizing a community capable of sustaining the country’s economic growth. The staggering unemployment figures are pointing the finger at a solution that many may not have considered, even though it is an open secret. Small and medium-sized enterprises – encouraged and supported – have an astronomical chance to create meaningful employment opportunities. People like Bathu, with larger-than-life growth numbers, have a nation walking around in what was once just a dream for a township boy who could afford a pair of shoes. It is now common to see a celebration every two weeks after the opening of a new store.

For Legend Barbershop’s Sheldon Tatchell, the need to make a difference has always been the heart and soul of the business. “As long as I can contribute one person at a time, that’s my main goal when it comes to cutting hair,” he has commented countless times. His dedication will soon be attested by the establishment of a Legends Barbershop Training Center which will enable many other stylists to explore the profitable world of personal care.

Mbali Sebapu, the enterprising founder of Hermosa Flor and a poster child for African beauty, has expanded the reach of her products through a partnership with We Are Egg, expanding product availability through a platform that will only do well to help the beauty brand grow.

In its quest to build up Africa, global giant Google has committed to offering inclusive growth opportunities for all, made possible through internet connectivity, SME support and financing initiatives. By addressing the pressing issues of funding and simplified stable access to the internet, it hopes to give local merchants a head start in digitizing their businesses, increasing both reach and accessibility to scale and expand such businesses stabilize.

This cocktail of bustling entrepreneurial activity and support from the forces of society will go a long way towards creating a sustainable and self-sufficient economy worthy of the community it seeks to serve.

About Thelma Wilt

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