Durban is known for its irresistible holiday atmosphere, the idyllic beaches of the Golden Mile, and world-class surf spots.
Over the past year or so, the city has faced some devastating events, namely the civil unrest which took place in July last year and the floods that wreaked havoc earlier this year.
The local economy in and around Durban has borne the brunt of these events and the impact has had far-reaching consequences.
The negative impact has prompted Fix Forward, a national NGO, to expand its operations into the greater Durban area to provide much-needed support for qualifying small and micro contractors in the building industry to grow successful businesses.
Joshua Cox, CEO, and founder of Fix Forward, expressed his and his foundation’s desire to assist SMEs to rebuild.Santam’s first half deluged with claims worth R4.4bn arising from KZN floods
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He said: “We are heartbroken at the devastation which has unfolded in KwaZulu-Natal in recent months. This inspired us to expand our operations into this region. Our hope is that we can play a small role in helping rebuild the local economy.” Cyril Ramaphosa says South Africa unrest was ‘instigated’
Contractors such as electricians, painters, tilers, pavers, builders and plumbers from the greater Durban area are encouraged to apply to be part of the 2022/2023 programme.
The initial programme will focus on supporting 100 contractors in the region.
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Fix Forward offers a free 12-month entrepreneur development programme that includes business training workshops, coaching, and mentoring.
Cox stressed the importance of supporting the informal sector.
“The informal economy employs millions of people. In a country plagued by high levels of unemployment, these businesses need every chance they can get to grow and prosper,” said Cox.
The NGO also allows contractors to connect with potential clients through its online platform, www.fixforward.com.
Fix Forward’s focus is not set on large construction projects but on smaller projects, such as home renovations. This provides the perfect opportunity for SMEs as the work is manageable and does not place strain on their limited resources.
For the past 10 years, Fix Forward has been equipping tradespeople from low-income communities to build thriving businesses.
In that time, the organisation has provided support to more than 400 small businesses across Cape Town and central Gauteng, creating more than 1 000 jobs in local communities.
The idea for Fix Forward was sparked when Cox provided a contractor friend from Diepsloot township, north of Johannesburg, with a reference letter and some business cards in 2008.
The positive outcomes of that interaction highlighted the need for small businesses to be supported for them to thrive
Fix Forward is partnering with national NGO Ranyaka Community Transformation, whose geographical reach includes several Durban communities, as well as the Durban Chamber of Commerce, to reach out to local tradespeople who might be interested in joining the programme.
Cox encourages small business owners in the home renovation industry who come from low-income communities to sign up so they can receive the support on offer.
Qualifying applicants must run their businesses on a full-time basis, be a B-BBEE level 1 business, have their own transport and live in the greater Durban area.
Initiatives such as these can only bode well for the further development of businesses in Durban as the city tries to rebuild after the hardships of the recent past.