Seven Muslim NGO’s push to rebuild Isipingo Fresh Produce Market

This pilot project by the group is the beginning of a much larger rollout to help small businesses to thrive and boost the battered economy, writes an Al Qalam Correspondent

The Rebuilding for Hope and Prosperity Initiative (REHOP) which consists of a coalition of seven Muslim NGOs, will enter its third phase of rebuilding the Isipingo Fresh Produce Market –and 15 hawkers will undergo entrepreneurial training.

The market, which was razed to the ground during July’s looting in KwaZulu-Natal, saw a close group of longstanding multi-racial traders losing their livelihoods.

Moved by their plight, REHOP realised that there had to be strategic intervention to get the traders back on their feet, and to revitalise the popular Isipingo Market.

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REHOP spokesperson, Shabir Chohan, said that their involvement at getting the market going again was seen as a long-term process, which would entail up-skilling the traders to grow their businesses.

Last month, two shipping containers were placed at the market to act as temporary offices, and 20 hawkers were given grants. This had been done in close conjunction with the eThekwini Municipality and Clairwood Fresh Produce Market.

Professor Shaheeda Cassiem, former professor of entrepreneurship at the Graduate School of Business at the University of KwaZulu Natal, will be coordinating a six-month training course for 15 traders.

“We have conceptualized a developmental intervention for 15 selected informal traders and a maintenance programme for the 38 more beneficiaries,” she said, adding that they had used a diagnostic to identify those with aspiration and a readiness to learn.

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“The people, many of them women, will be shown skills that will enhance their entrepreneurial self-efficacy and their operational effectiveness. Expert facilitators have been identified and will work under my supervision during the six-month course.”

Prof. Cassiem said that there was lots of excitement amongst the traders. If they stayed the course, it would most definitely be life-changing.

“We hope to use this as a learning pilot to roll out on a much larger scale, as our economy badly needs small businesses to thrive. We certainly hope this project will be ongoing with many more groups to come,” she said.

Some of the organisations that are part of this initiative include: Association of Muslim Accountants and Lawyers; Growing Hands Enterprise Development NPC; Minara Chamber of Commerce; Muslims for Humanity; National Awqaf Foundation of South Africa; South African Muslim Charitable Trust and United Ulama Council of South Africa.

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