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Talking shop with Small Business Development minister

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From left: Jon Heeger (Project Manager, GWI Group); Themba Thomo (architect); Lee Barker (entrepreneur); Lindiwe Zulu (Minister Small Business Enterprise) ; Arthur Wade Anderson (Got Game Founder and Chief Executive Officer); Shan Naidoo (Got Game Chief Compliance Officer)

Jon Heeger, of the GWI Group, the company managing the KZN Techno Hubs project, had the privilege of meeting the minister of the Department of Small Business Development, Lindiwe Zulu, earlier this month.

Heeger was on a scheduled visit to The Box Shop in Soweto, Gauteng and briefed Zulu - who was visiting the retail outlet at the same time - on the progress of the KZN Techno Hubs initiative.

"Our take-out (from the meeting) was that our approach is entirely consistent with the minister’s own thoughts of how to develop small business," said Heeger, adding Zulu's support for the Got Game/Box Ship model as executed in Soweto was "enthusiastic".

The Box Shop is a lifestyle retail outlet located at the historic Vilikazi Street, a vibrant tourist hotspot in Soweto. It forms part of The Box Shop incubator, which was created to support and co-develop competitive retail products with young South Africans. The Box Shop incubator won the award for the most innovative incubator in South Africa competition this year run by the Department of Small Business Development.

Got Game, the social enterprise responsible for building The Box Shop, has signed an expression of interest to get involved in all four of the Techno Hubs across KwaZulu-Natal. The Techno Hubs will be located in Port Shepstone, Newcastle, Pietermaritzburg and Richards Bay. 

"The Got Game guys are working hard to present to us a template for a business model for rollout of similar concepts to each Technohub, based on the Soweto Box Shop model, but adapted and 'tweaked' for the specific circumstances of each Techno Hub site," said Heeger.

He said the KZN Techo Hubs strategy of concentrating on the rollout of the project at local and provincial level through the  "host municipality" model, with facilitation from the KZN provincial treasury, is the most effective mechanism for getting the "right" infrastructure investment in place and maximising the buy-in from and benefit to local communities.

In the case of the KZN Techno Hubs, the development of small business will be driven through innovation, training and enterprise linked to appropriate and accessible technologies.