soweto seminar 'enlightening'

INFLUENTIAL businessman Simon Mohapi has urged Soweto residents to start and sustain their own businesses.

He was speaking at the St Phillip Catholic Church business conference on Saturday at the University of Johannesburg Soweto Campus.

"Let's break the dependency syndrome - I hate grants - let us do it for ourselves," Mohapi said.

The conference gave residents the opportunity to ask top businesspeople and government funding agencies questions on how to start and sustain their own businesses.

"The purpose of this conference is to instil a sense of independence," said Sipho Nkosi, owner of WSN Enterprises.

Business funding was the hot issue under debate.

"If you know your story you can get funding - that's why it is important for people to know about business plans and budgets," Nkosi said.

Father Sikhosiphi Mgoza said "it is a great thing to see black people being empowered and for them to know where to get resources".

Many delegates directed their questions at Palesa Rantseli of the National Empowerment Fund (NEF).

Many of them were angry that they had not received funding for their businesses in the past.

Rantseli said that not every business that asked for funding received it.

"The business must be viable and the person in charge must also guarantee that we'll get our money back," she said.

She also said the conference had built awareness about the NEF.

Gloria Morekhure of the National Credit Regulator gave advice on debt management.

Representatives from Bula Mahlo Investments, Thebe Securities and the national Department of Tourism also gave presentations.

Lorato Taku, a delegate at the conference, said "as a businesswomen I learnt how to manage my business".

"I know that I need a business plan and budget and also how to deal with debt," she said.

Another delegate, Zakhele Nkosi, spoke well of the event, saying "they have empowered us".