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ANDE is strengthening township economies via entrepreneurial ecosystems in South Africa

The Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE), with support from the Walmart Foundation, have launched a series of Township Entrepreneurial Ecosystems Learning Labs in South Africa.

The purpose of convening the learning labs is to provide a neutral platform for diverse entrepreneurs to share best practices and explore new innovative ideas related to the township economy. The learning labs will dive deep into the already existing interventions of capacity development, market and capital access, investment linkages and non-financial support. It is designed to root out the causes of barriers to access, linkages and support for entrepreneurs operating in the townships.

This socio-economic context-sensitive approach will enable the learning labs to be a space of entrepreneurial vulnerability that is solution driven and narrative transparent to the day-to-day lived realities of township entrepreneurs.

Less is known about the entrepreneurial ecosystems in the townships and how to support the primarily micro, necessity-based businesses that operate there. The ‘ANDE Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Snapshot: Township Economies in South Africa’ published in November 2021 indicated that ‘entrepreneurship has long been touted as critical leverage for solving the unemployment crisis in South Africa’. While the World Bank estimates that ‘only 15% of township enterprises are formally registered, compared with 30% of similar enterprises in urban areas, they generally do not provide goods or services that reach larger markets or create quality jobs.

As such, how do we enable access for township entrepreneurs/SGBs to be integrated into mainstream economic activity through deliberate procurement, supply chain inclusion and intentional empowerment? The learning labs will directly explore the practical solutions to these challenges amongst others by interacting directly with the entrepreneurs in their communities.

ANDE’s partnership with the Walmart Foundation commenced in 2019 when both organizations embarked on a journey with a joint mandate to support a sustainable and inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystem in the country.

Over the past three years ANDE, through the program of supporting small and growing businesses (SGBs) based in developing economies, has managed to expand and create a robust ecosystem of entrepreneurs in South African communities.

Interventions included a combination of applied research in the form of an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Snapshot of Township Economies in South Africa, direct capacity-building support through Technical Assistance (TA) Facility, Impact Measurement Learning Labs, as well as ecosystem coordination through the engagement of key ecosystem stakeholders in the private and public sectors.

In addition, to further enhance the work on strengthening support for SGBs in developing economies, ANDE in partnership with Huruma Bantfu with support from the Walmart Foundation, will host ‘Township Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Learning Labs’ to facilitate sustainable and inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystems in South Africa.

21 April 2023. Huruma Bantfu, co-creator of the first ‘Strengthening the Township Economy Learning Lab in Gauteng’ in partnership with the Aspen Network of Developmental Entrepreneurs (ANDE) supported by the Walmart Foundation.
The hybrid learning lab in Johannesburg explored broadening the township entrepreneurial ecosystem and adding value to the areas of investor readiness, access to makrets, business development and impact management. Images: @HurumaBantfuAfrica

To create a resilient township economy, it is crucial to address the challenge that entrepreneurs are not receiving effective support that will enable them to grow. It is through entrepreneurship that jobs will be created and economic growth will be stimulated. There is a need for interventions that bridge the gap by providing opportunities for township-based SGBs that will facilitate growth.

Huruma Bantfu, as a growing, youth-owned and stable SGB, is well suited to support the execution of the township entrepreneurial ecosystem learning labs. Both founders of Huruma Bantfu grew up in townships, and thus understand the nuances of the socio-cultural conditions, entrepreneurial culture, and barriers to accessing capital markets.

ANDE and Huruma Bantfu invite entrepreneur support organisations (ESOs), financial support entities and entrepreneurs in South Africa to participate in the Township Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Learning Labs which will be focusing on thematic areas such as investor readiness, access to markets, business development and impact management including a gender and climate lens.

About ANDE

The Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) is a global network of organisations that propel entrepreneurship in developing economies. ANDE members provide critical financial, educational, and business support services to small and growing businesses (SGBs) based on the conviction that SGBs create jobs, stimulate long-term economic growth, and produce environmental and social benefits. As the leading global voice of the SGB sector, ANDE believes that SGBs are a powerful, yet underleveraged tool in addressing social and environmental challenges. ANDE is part of the Aspen Institute, a global non-profit organisation committed to realizing a free, just, and equitable society.

About Walmart Foundation

Walmart Inc. provides affordable food and household products to hundreds of millions of people each week in over a dozen countries, employs more than 2.2 million associates and does business with thousands of suppliers who, in turn, employ millions of people. Walmart.org comprises the philanthropic efforts of Walmart Inc. and the Walmart Foundation. The Walmart Inc. philanthropic strategies aim to accelerate progress on societal issues and contribute to lasting, systemic transformation in ways that complement and expand the societal impact of Walmart Inc. business initiatives.

By Sekai Chiwandamira for ANDE

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