Six over­looked black en­ter­prises that de­serve recog­ni­tion

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS - Wes­ley Diphoko

NO-ONE YET knows the ac­cu­rate eco­nomic im­pact of the town­ship econ­omy. Yet, we know its im­por­tant role in driv­ing eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment in South Africa.

In 2014 it was an­nounced that the Gaut­eng Pro­vin­cial Gov­ern­ment will com­mis­sion a base­line study on the town­ship econ­omy to un­der­stand its size, spread and strength as well as in­no­va­tive ways of mea­sur­ing its so­cial and eco­nomic im­por­tance.

In 2017, there’s still no es­tab­lished na­tional re­port which pro­vides ac­cu­rate in­for­ma­tion about the town­ship econ­omy.

We took some time to take a closer look at in­dus­tries that were de­vel­oped from the town­ship econ­omy and we found the fol­low­ing 6: Foot­ball In­dus­try. Trans­port In­dus­try. Re­tail In­dus­try. En­ter­tain­ment In­dus­try. Food In­dus­try. Beauty In­dus­try.

1. Foot­ball In­dus­try

When you hear the name Kaizer Motaung or Dr Irvin Khoza you think foot­ball. Many for­get that these in­di­vid­u­als are lead­ing one of the most im­por­tant in­dus­tries to come out of the town­ship econ­omy.

The Foot­ball in­dus­try in South Africa emerged from the town­ships. Foot­ball clubs such as Kaizer Chiefs, Or­lando Pi­rates and Sun­downs are foot­ball in­dus­try brands that are lead­ing to­day.

The foot­ball in­dus­try is one of the most suc­cess­ful in­dus­tries to emerge from the town­ships and yet it is not seen as a suc­cess story of the town­ship econ­omy. The foot­ball in­dus­try in South Africa is worth bil­lions with bil­lion­aires such as Pa­trice Mot­sepe in­vested in this in­dus­try.

Not so long ago Kaizer Chiefs was one of the foot­ball com­pa­nies that was listed on the Jo­han­nes­burg Stock Ex­change.

The Foot­ball in­dus­try has pro­duced mil­lion­aires from the town­ships, par­tic­u­larly in the Gaut­eng and KwaZulu Natal re­gion.

In 2010 South Africa hosted the most im­por­tant event in the world – the Fifa World Cup, which was a di­rect re­sult of an in­dus­try that started in the town­ships of Soweto by Kaizer Motaung, Irvin Khoza and other lead­ers who shaped the foot­ball in­dus­try.

2. Trans­port In­dus­try

The most com­mon fea­ture on South African roads is the taxi – a prod­uct of town­ship trans­port in­dus­try. What you hear mostly about taxis is how un­safe they are as means of trans­port.

Lit­tle do you hear about the im­pact of the taxi in the town­ship trans­port econ­omy. Some of the mil­lion­aires in town­ships were borne out of the taxi trans­port in­dus­try.

The im­pact of this im­por­tant sec­tor of the town­ship econ­omy is not cel­e­brated enough, due to dis­trac­tions high­lighted by peo­ple who are mis­un­der­stand­ing the town­ship econ­omy.

3. Re­tail In­dus­try

You can’t men­tion the town­ship econ­omy with­out in­clud­ing the spaza shop, which is the most prom­i­nent fea­ture of the town­ship econ­omy. South African re­tail­ers have re­alised the im­por­tance of re­tail in South African town­ships. As a re­sult they are be­gin­ning to po­si­tion them­selves within town­ships.

Re­tail­ers such as Sho­prite are a com­mon fea­ture now in the town­ships.

The spaza shop has not nec­es­sar­ily cre­ated well-known town­ship re­tail brands. How­ever, it has en­abled many to start their own busi­nesses.

4. En­ter­tain­ment In­dus­try

If you visit any town­ship in South Africa you are greeted by sounds of mu­sic de­vel­oped by town­ship mu­si­cians. Kwaito, Mbaqanga and House are just some of the mu­sic gen­res that em­anate from the town­ship econ­omy.

A well known mu­sic group the Lady­smith Black Mam­bazo is just one ex­am­ple of mu­sic brands that were born in the town­ships. Kwaito, a favourite mu­sic genre, has cre­ated lead­ing en­ter­tain­ment busi­ness peo­ple such DJ Oskido, Don Laka and oth­ers.

The town­ship en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try has even cre­ated in­ter­na­tional icons such as Hugh Masekela & Jonathan But­ler.

5. Food In­dus­try

One of the hottest busi­nesses in town­ship has been Mzoli’s Place. An eatery based in the Gugulethu town­ship, which brings lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional tourists to the town­ship in Cape Town.

The town­ship food in­dus­try has even cre­ated its own prod­uct line that you can only find there. Think sheep head – which is the com­mon fea­ture across South Africa’s town­ship food in­dus­try.

6. Beauty In­dus­try

Lastly, the beauty in­dus­try in the town­ships is the next big thing. In each town­ship you find hair­dressers and bar­ber shops that are op­er­at­ing from homes and con­tain­ers. There’s even a beauty prod­uct that came out of a town­ship busi­ness by Her­mann Mashaba – the Black Like Me brand.

These are just some of the 6 ma­jor in­dus­tries of the town­ship econ­omy, and yet their im­pact is not well re­ported.

The time has come to recog­nise the eco­nomic de­vel­op­ments driven mainly by the town­ship econ­omy.

The In­fonomist will em­bark on a process of cre­at­ing an in­for­ma­tion repos­i­tory about the town­ship econ­omy. This should serve as an­other source of in­for­ma­tion about it and its var­i­ous sec­tors.

Wes­ley Diphoko is the On­line Ed­i­tor for Busi­ness Re­port and head of In­de­pen­dent Me­dia’s Dig­i­tal Lab.


Mon­te­casino, Four­ways, from left to right: Dr Ir­win Khoza, chair­per­son, Or­lando Pi­rates; Nor­man Adami, chair­per­son, SAB Miller, and Kaizer Motaung, chair­per­son, Kaizer Chiefs, at the Car­ling Black La­bel Cup launch in this file photo.

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