Entrepreneurs, business people and local stakeholders have a new facility to meet, network and work from, thanks to the Saldanha Bay Industrial Zone (SBIDZ).
The new SME Co-Lab Centre in the Saldanha Industrial area was opened on Thursday 5 March. The office space, made with containers, is open to locals looking for temporary office space.
Patrick Lakabane, Executive for Development Programmes for the SBIDZ, emphasised the space has been created for the Saldanha Bay community. He urged the business community to use the Co-lab as a resource for its development.
“Development itself is not a short sprint,” Lakabane explained, “Development is a long-term commitment, with the results visible only in three or five years from now. This facility is ours, so look after it. We want to make sure you get the projects and get the benefits of these projects.”
Saldanha Bay Executive Mayor Marius Koen spoke of the development zone, which 10 years ago was just an idea. “When I became Mayor the municipality had only one official for local economic development, focusing on driving the Saldanha Bay area economically. Now LED is not just a focus, but a need.”
Koen added it is important for the region to promote and advertise that Saldanha Bay is “open for business”.
Thami Klaasen, Director for SEZs within the Department of Trade and Industry, stressed the key role small, medium and micro-enterprises play as economic drivers. He notes too often the public knows exactly where their local Department of Social Development is, but not the Department of Trade and Industry. “At this time we need innovators,” Klaasen said. “Innovation needs to be harnessed and incubated, and put in a lab such as this, so that we understand what the real needs to be addressed are when we talk about development,” he explained.
The Co-lab is a shared space the SBIDZ hopes will be a catalytic resource for creating more professional opportunities, explained Kaashifah Beukes, CEO of the SBIDZ.
Sebs Venfolo of the Small Business Empowerment Unit said he had the same hope, but was worried about how members of the unit would be able to make their way to the Co-lab. He said: “Local entrepreneurs have to use their cellphones and data to conduct business, so the access to WiFi is a good thing. However, this positioning is far for us in Vredenburg.”
Ashraf Schutt, Saldanha businessman, said he is pleased about the Co-lab opening, and sees it as a tangible effort by Beukes and her team to help locals with resources. He said the young entrepreneurs must stand together and “take no nonsense” from older businessfolk, as it is their futures that are on the line.
Anyone looking for more information on the Co-lab can contact the SBIDZ at its offices on 022 714 0206.
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