Welcoming speaking notes by Acting CEO, Advocate Pieter Holl
Event: eKasi Summit 2018
Date: 13 November 2018
Programme Director: Mr Bulelani Balabala
Gauteng MEC for Economic Development, Environment, Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr Lebogang Maile
TIHMC Board member, Mr Ramateu Monyokolo
CLLR Vusi Mayisela, Mamelodi
Various stakeholders in the innovation ecosystem
CEO’s of various organisations
Members of the media
Ladies and gentlemen, good morning
It is my honour and a privilege to welcome you to eKasi Summit 2018, The Innovation Hub initiative to advance the spectrum for SMEs, aspiring entrepreneurs, technology enthusiasts and local businesses and communities at large.
The eKasiLabs programme is an entrepreneurship development programme run by The Innovation Hub to support entrepreneurs in the Smart Industry (ICT and manufacturing), green economy and biosciences. The eKasiLabs Facilities are used as vehicles to promote the culture of Innovation and entrepreneurship in the township so as to ensure that local communities are able to access the services and facilities that are offered at The Innovation Hub located in Tshwane.
I am pleased to share with you that to date the programme has established footprints in all Gauteng corridors and have presence in 10 townships (Soweto, Garankuwa, Alex, Tembisa, Mohlakeng, Mabopane, Kagiso, Katourus Sebokeng and Mamelodi). eKasiLab Mamelodi is currently hosting 30 entrepreneurs under formal incubation with all the eKasiLabs sitting at 296 entrepreneurs.
I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge Absa for their contribution on the prizes that will be offered to winners of the pitching session today and I also thank NYDA, Seda and the City of Tshwane for joining hands with us in our drive to support entrepreneurs and particularly looking at assisting them with access to market opportunities.
Leading development economists Ranis and Stewart have described the township economy as dichotomous, composed of a traditional informal sector, associated with “very low capitalization, low labor productivity and low incomes, very small size (three or fewer workers). Juxtaposed to a robust modernizing informal economy with developmental traits such as being “more capital-intensive, usually larger in size (as many as 10 workers), more dynamic in technology, often linked to the formal economy.
The latter description is a desirable structure for our townships, but unfortunately it is the former which categorizes our informal economies, that being stagnant and with little to no technological adaptations.
The question that has been top of mind during the current and previous administration is how can this be achieved. How can we, both provincial and national government, ensure that the informal township sector discover its full economic potential.
We need to bring the township closer, but what do I mean by closer? If we consider proximity to be a major determinant of access. The closer to those structures of economic activity, such as lessening cognitive distance, by placing think tanks, innovation specialists, business forums, policy developers in the township. There is a need for an advanced and progressive language to exist in the township, so as to ensure that our people have cognitive access to alternative ways of thinking. Second is social and spatial distance, what is the social distance of township residents to the city and its inherent economic character, and how can we devise methods to bring them closer to these economic hubs, not as consumers but as participants.
If we are to fully achieve this, it can no longer be business as usual, an innovative approach to aligning the economic culture of the township to that of the province is crucial by not only addressing spatial concerns of access and perspective but also supporting sustainable growth of existing and emerging township businesses.
Apart from the township economic revitalization strategy, the government has made the township a central figure on the national and provincial agenda through the promotion of platforms such as the recent Township Business Investment Summit, as well as spaces such as The Innovation Hub eKasiLabs that promote the culture of Innovation and entrepreneurship in the township focusing on new innovative output in the community, in line with Township modernisation and re-industrialisation / Township Economy Revitalisation .
I thank you for joining us and I wish you well in today’s deliberations