Speaker, as we have indicated earlier, part of the new responsibilities delegated to us by the President, is to coordinate interventions aimed at stimulating rural and township economies. This work includes facilitation of socioeconomic empowerment models for increased economic inclusion at a local level, championing of high impact tourism empowerment projects for rural and township communities, and
facilitation of linkages to private and public markets and value chains for small, medium and micro enterprises, SMMEs, in special economic zones across the country.
For the benefit of the House, the socioeconomic empowerment models we are referring to here, as per our delegated responsibility, flows from an appreciation that across the country, in every province and every district, there are a number of local economic development initiatives that are working, of course they are fragmented and they are disconnected.
We believe that if these economic activities were to be consolidated and co- ordinated, with a view to alleviate and elevate their potential business and growth potential, a lot of our rural and township enterprises can be uplifted and supported to become sustainable with the capacity to contribute to our local economic development, capacity job creation in these district and local communities.
In the process, the much needed employment to respond to the present youth unemployment challenge could thus be addressed.
We trust that you will agree with us, hon members, that rural and township economies are places where there are vast untapped productive capacities and markets.
Think of how many panel beatings and spray painting operations, how many wheels and tyre operations, how many carpentry, welding, textile and creative industries that are found in many parts of our townships and rural areas. Think of how many women-led small scales, informal enterprises that are there to feed these entrepreneur's families and educate their children. The potential in our township and rural areas is vast and it's untapped. These are the real small businesses that must be uplifted and provided with the necessary support whether financial or non financial, so that they can prosper.
Our models should ask what purpose would be development of big malls and big shopping centres which does serve or support local markets and value chains in those townships and rural areas.
For township and rural economies to thrive, localization and ring fencing of certain economic sectors to achieve real
transformation, should be the primary pillars of this programme.
We will not meaningfully address the existing obstacles to sustainable participation of black people, especially those that are operating within township and rural economies, if we do not take bold actions currently, to create the necessary conditions that would deconcentrate economic activity from big players.
Therefore, dealing with this unemployment challenge requires a comprehensive and co-ordinated approach that is targeted and multi- sectoral. This effort requires careful development and co-ordination of relevant opportunities, taking into account the level of know-how of unemployed young persons.
While government does have various interventions and partnerships through national government, provincial government and our agencies, we need to ensure that all these interventions that are targeted to address youth unemployment must be part of a multipronged intervention which includes skills development especially for those young people who are
not in employment, who are not in education facility or training.
Furthermore, we need to direct industrial funding towards our young people to provide the capital for the growth and expansion of their ideas. Four years ago, targets were set for industrial financing to young empowered enterprises over a period of five-year period.
Within one year that is left in this period, the Industrial Development Corporation, IDC, has already exceeded its targets, providing more than R5,1 billion in funding to more than 120 youth-empowered enterprises.
In addition to funding our youth, we have to find ways to open up markets so that new enterprises can complete and compete fairly. Earlier this month, the Competition Amendment Act was promulgated by the President. As key focus of these amendments is on opening markets where concentration and the behaviour of dominant firms is harmful to the creation of jobs and the growth of small and medium businesses in sectors across the economy.
Our response therefore seeks to consolidate various impactful initiatives that are being implemented in a fragmented manner by some provincial governments and national departments.
The interventions will identify, develop and support qualifying SMMEs in order to assist them to become competitive manufacturers and suppliers of building materials where these could be sourced for development of human settlements and paving of municipal roads and pathways.
For our part as government, we will to support SMMEs and Co- operatives through targeted procurement initiatives for government's infrastructure and human settlements projects.
As we move forward, the Anti-Poverty Inter-Ministerial Committee will prioritise the implementation of economic empowerment models that aggregate government's procurement spend in key areas to drive the incubation and participation of small businesses in general, and in township and rural areas.
We are pleased that some of the government departments and provinces have started with piloting and implementing some of
these initiatives. For instance, the Department of Small Business Development is implementing the Aggregated Community Produce for School Nutrition Programme while Mpumalanga, where I come from, the province has begun with the implementation of Government Nutrition Programme to stimulate agricultural production and empower farmers to supply fresh produce to government institutions such as hospitals and schools. In KwaZulu-Natal the Radical Agrarian Socio-economic Transformation provides support to small-scale farmers by offering them market access to leverage on government procurement.
There are various economic empowerment models that are being implemented in other provinces, but like we have said our approach is fragmented. Our task, as the centre of government, is to lead, coordinate and consolidate our efforts to expand the scale and the impact.
As we upscale these programmes, we must pay particular attention to the incubation of young people and women owned enterprises to support their meaningful participation in the economy. Thank you very much [Applause.]