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The Durban University of Technology (DUT), in partnership with the Ithala Development Finance Corporation (IDFC), launched their free SMME and Co-operative Business Training Programme to support local economic recovery in KwaZulu-Natal. The online event took place on Thursday, 4 March 2021. 

This Business Support Initiative followed the Memorandum of Understanding that was signed between DUT and IDFC in September 2020. This latest development marks a significant milestone in co-operation agreement, which was aimed at bolstering KZN’s economic recovery strategy through innovative local economic development interventions.   

Providing insight into the programme, IDFC Group Chief Executive, Ms Pearl Bengu said: As part of the Provincial Economic Recovery Strategy efforts to channel resources towards building local capacity, Ithala has identified 50 SMME’s from the Business Finance portfolio to be taken through a virtual training programme designed to fill the knowledge gap on the practical skills and knowledge required to launch, sustain and operate a business.” 

Bengu reiterated that the programme was free and they welcome anyone who is willing to join, especially the youth and young women who want to empower themselves. She said the 50 candidates have been selected from the agriculture sugarcane farming, construction and procurement sectors, with young women being adequately represented. The virtual training will be divided into six sessions of 1 ½ hr classes scheduled for the evenings at 17h00 to 18h30. The first phase of the training will commence on Thursday, 04 March 2021 and end on 01 April 2021. A graduation ceremony will be hosted on Zoom and Facebook live platformsThe attendees will receive a DUT Certificate of Completion in Foundation Phase: Business Management.  

DUT’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Innovation and Engagement, Professor Sibusiso Moyo said that this initiative was aligned to DUT’s ENVISION 2030 strategy and addressed the joint intent to ensure that their people are “creative, innovative, entrepreneurial and adaptive to changes in the world.” 

“This is a continuation of our partnership where we each committed to join hands in both conceptualizing and implementing joint programmes that are beneficial to society, as aligned to Government’s aspirations both at national and provincial level. While Ithala aspires to support and service a nation of thriving entrepreneurs, DUT has initiated programmes to train and incubate entrepreneurs, as well as focusing on setting up the relevant infrastructure and a bouquet of skills training and knowledge, that an entrepreneur should be empowered with,” said Professor Moyo.

Furthermore, Professor Moyo said that whilst 2021 is posing a number of challenges and restrictions due to COVID-19, DUT is determined to ensure that more women entrepreneurs are supported to excel and that training and development programmes continue. 

Representing the KZN MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA), Mr Sihle Mkhize, the Deputy Director General: Sector Development and Business Governance. Mkhize said that EDTEA was honoured to be a part of the occasion, which they believed was in line with their efforts of reviving the economy of KwaZulu-Natal. He applauded both DUT and IDFC for establishing this initiative which he believed would assist entrepreneurs to mitigate the risk of failure and guide candidates in seeking and leveraging opportunities to create new ventures. The second group of SMMEs will commence with the training on 12 April 2021. The training will be opened to members of the public and details will soon be made public for all those interested to join. 

Pictured: DUT’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Innovation and Engagement, Professor Sibusiso Moyo and IDFC Group Chief Executive, Ms Pearl Bengu.

Simangele Zuma

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