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Aspiring entrepreneurs living in Alexandra will be able to sharpen their business skills with the opening of The Business Place in the township yesterday, giving them access to services and advisors for small business development.
Julian Baskin, director of the Alexandra Renewal project, one of the partners in the initiative, said: "Our main objective is to reduce unemployment and poverty in a sustainable manner, especially through spatial integration and skills training, focused on women and the youth. We've partnered with The Business Place because it is vital to help people to start their own businesses as well as help existing businesses improve their operating efficiencies."
Other partners include the City of Johannesburg and financial services group Investec, with the bulk of the funding coming from the provincial Housing Department.
Key to the centre, said Setlogane Manchidi, head of Investec's social investment division, was to make it a friendly place of encouragement and support for people taking their first steps towards starting a business.
The centre will offer practical advice for starting or expanding a business, workshops, training, Internet access and computers, free legal services and networking sessions.
The launch of the branch in Alex follows the suc-cessful opening of branches in Johannesburg, Kliptown, King Williams Town, Cape Town, Philippi and Gaborone.
Last year, in three of The Business Place centres alone, more than 23000 people sought advice. Another 8000 visitors have come through the doors nationally so far this year.