Joburg fresh produce market trains traders in order to enhance their skills and allow them to become more competitive locally

Maryanne Maina

Maryanne Maina

The Johannesburg Fresh Produce Market is the fifth largest market in the world. Daily, 20000 traders visit the market to purchase fruits and vegetables.

This large number of visitors at the market shows that this industry is significant to farmers and traders. Developing small and medium enterprises (SMEs) will enable these traders to better themselves and become more competitive locally. The traders make an important contribution to the stable and equitable growth of the national economy.

The market has recognised the need to train these traders in areas that will have positive effects on their businesses. New Venture Qualification accredited by South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) is a training programme at the Johannesburg Fresh Produce Market on how to improve businesses. Fifteen entrepreneurs graduated from this course and received their certificates. The course took six months with four modules: entrepreneurship development, financing businesses, marketing and business planning. It included classroom learning and on-the-job training where the lecturer assessed traders' skills as they went about their daily businesses.

"The entrepreneurs now have the ability to manage their cash flows better and reinvest most of their money back into their businesses," says Kgosientso Ramokgopa, chief executive officer of the Johannesburg Fresh Produce Market. "The government has a programme for SMEs and this training is our way of contributing to it."

The market contributed funding for the training programme. This programme is a pilot project and there are plans to make the training programme more beneficial for future traders. To qualify for the course, entrants need to be literate, have numerical knowledge and be operating their own business.

"I have improved in handling my business finances. I can now negotiate better than before and keep myself up to date with the market," says Elisa Mabaso of Emabaso Fruits and Vegetables Distribution. "This programme made us aware of the importance of this informal sector to the economy of our country.

"The course has made them (the traders) more dynamic and they will contribute to the economy," adds Ramokgopa. "We must provide a stepladder for (the) informal sector to be absorbed into the economy."