Passion for innovation: Gauteng’s township innovators collaborate to combat unemployment

Posted on: 22/06/2022
Marisa Naidoo with

A dedicated team is set on lowering the unemployment rate in Diepsloot, a township in Gauteng, by introducing sustainable ideas to SMMEs.

Global Alliance Africa’s Technology Transfer Manager, Marisa Naidoo, recently joined an initiative which is introducing the adoption of sustainable Enterprise Development to tackle the high unemployment rate in Diepsloot. Global Alliance Africa is a programme delivered by Innovate UK KTN. Marisa, alongside the Innovate UK KTN Gauteng Advisory Group, Standard Bank, WasteAid and the Gauteng Department for Economic Development, paid a visit to the Wot-if? Trust facility in Diepsloot.

Marisa describes the visit as “an intervention to actively fight unemployment in townships”.

“Everyone is looking for solutions to fight unemployment, and with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, more and more households are desperate for ideas to stay afloat. While our aim is to ensure that people have jobs, we also want to ensure that we create sustainable ideas that will last for generations, while also contributing to a greener earth,” she says.

Marisa adds: “When we visited the Diepsloot community, we wanted to witness the issues and challenges that are faced in the Diepsloot community first-hand and discuss how the people present can jointly address a number of prevalent challenges. These are mainly; the management of organic/food waste, youth unemployment in townships, and sustainable enterprise development.”

During the visit, everyone was educated on the key focus areas in the community, the role that the Wot-if? Trust plays in the community, and the role the Gauteng Advisory Group aims to focus on, by working towards collaborating on a pilot programme to increase the capacity of Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) and support services within the township.

Advisory Group member and Executive Trustee of The Wot-if? Trust, Gail Styger, said: “Diepsloot has amazing people and there are immense opportunities for an approach that looks at the ecosystem and not just enterprise development or youth unemployment or climate change or waste management, etc, in a silo”.

The visit also included a walk-about tour, which was hosted by Boomba Dot Mobi, a local SMME, to emphasize the community’s struggles in relation to food waste and demonstrate the need to enable a circular economy concept in the township economy. The business provides a sustainable outlet for personal and commercial waste of any kind, has stepped up against illegal dumping, and is working towards sustainability, contributing to a clean township environment.

Other Advisory Group members who were part of the intervention included the Deputy Director of International Relations at the Gauteng Department for Economic Development, who said: “The earth is what we all have in common, and therefore it is our collective responsibility to ensure that we keep the environment around us clean in order to preserve it”.

The insightful day rounded off with encouraging sentiments from all of the organisations present to begin designing a programme together that will assist SMMEs like Boomba Dot Mobi to grow and benefit the community, by enabling employment of youth and providing essential support services.

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Global Alliance Africa

Global Alliance Africa

This Innovate UK Global Alliance Africa 6-year (2019-2025) project funded by UK International Development aims to build new and stronger UK-African partnerships to maximise the creation of inclusive market access, funding and investment opportunities through innovation knowledge transfer between the UK, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa.


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