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By Ivor Price - 10 August 2022

Through Anglo American’s Zimele enterprise development programme, Portia Mngomezulu was able to grow her start-up. Today, her skincare products are distributed to more than 2 000 stores nationwide. Photo: Supplied/Ventureburn

Mining giant Anglo American has vowed to turn more than 500 South African start-ups in rural communities into sustainable and successful companies. This will be done through its Zimele enterprise development programme.

Zimele, an isiZulu-language word for “independent”, will support youth and women-led start-ups in the mining communities around Mogalakwena, Rustenburg, Amandelbult, Burgersfort, Polokwane, Sishen and Kolomela. These towns are all based in the North West province.

According to Anglo American, the start-up support will be offered in three phases per location, with 25 entrepreneurs taking part in each phase.

Larisha Naidoo, who heads up Zimele for Anglo American, said the programme was designed to get entrepreneurs to take their businesses from zero revenue to commercially viable entities that could improve the broader economic well-being of communities around the company’s mining and processing operations in South Africa.

The seven-month programme will give aspiring entrepreneurs structured training, mentorship and tools that will help them refine their business models, identify and engage target markets, and test their products and services to improve the viability of their businesses.

“Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) play an invaluable role in job creation and economic growth in South Africa, but these businesses are extremely vulnerable to economic disruptions due to factors such as limited cash reserves and smaller client base,” said Naidoo.

“This programme aims to increase their resilience and growth, with the ultimate aim of incubating sustainable businesses that help alleviate joblessness and poverty levels in their communities.”

The programme will be presented in partnership with companies like TechnoServe, which focuses on youth training, supplier and enterprise development; Absa, which enables access to loans and funding; and Summit, a specialist in training and development.

Since 2018, Zimele and its partners have helped 1 268 entrepreneurs to grow their businesses, access credit, and integrate into mining and non-mining supply chains. Participating businesses have seen their revenues grow by an average of 29%, forged 1,013 new market linkages valued at over R2 billion, and supported more than 10 500 jobs.

To find out more about this opportunity, entrepreneurs from these host communities are encouraged to reach out to their respective Zimele hubs.

‘Disclaimer - The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the BEE CHAMBER’

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