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Building bridges

A new initiative aimed at stimulating economic growth by building bridges between members of the community with resources and experience and those in need of resources and mentoring was launched last week.

Around 40 people attended the launch of Hermanus Siyakha, a Non-Profit Company (NPC), at the RDP Village.

Hermanus Siyakha chairperson Jerry van Niekerk, who is also one of the three directors at the helm of the steering committee, explains that the venture was “born out of the pain” and chaos following the destructive riots that rocked Hermanus throughout 2018.

Siyakha, meaning “Let’s build Together”, aims to build bridges between the various communities by linking those in need of resources with those who have the necessary resources. The focus of this non-profit organisation is to help existing and new businesses get financing to grow their enterprise through interest free loans and providing mentors to assist them with business management and related training.

“Initially we will focus on existing businesses run by women as we have learned through experience that women are often more determined to make a success of their endeavours as they feel directly responsible for caring for their families,” Van Niekerk explained.

Siyakha has joined forces with partners like Grootbos Foundation, who have been providing grants, as well as training and mentoring to entrepreneurs for several years, with great success. Grootbos has introduced Hermanus Siyakha to its entrepreneurs who are ready to use loans in order to take their businesses to the next level.

Hermanus Mentors is also involved in the endeavour by providing suitable mentors for the hopeful entrepreneurs.

“We also work with churches, organisations and individuals within the community who are able to introduce us to business enterprises, mentors and volunteers,” Van Niekerk explained.

All applicants go through a careful screening process to ensure that they are suitable and that the enterprise has a strong likelihood of success.

A mentor appointed by Siyakha assists the candidate to ensure that their application is complete.

A brief summary of the applicant and his / her business as well as the loan amount they need is then loaded onto Siyakha’s website. The site offers members of the public the option to either make a donation towards the project or to provide a certain amount towards the interest free loan. This works on the basis of crowd funding.The mentor will assist the applicant on their journey to ensure the continued success of the business.

“In Zwelihle the dynamics and the challenges are totally different,” said Van Niekerk.

“Through this project we as steering committee members have been given the opportunity to look at the world through new eyes and to work with business owners who we can learn from and admire.”

Anyone who wants to become involved, either through mentoring, volunteering or by providing funds in the form of loans or grants to the NPC, can visit www.siyakha.org.za for more information.

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