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The Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry Ms Elizabeth Thabethe says the target of twenty million jobs announced by President Jacob Zuma will only be achieved if South African citizens rolled up their sleeves and contribute meaningfully in creating job opportunities. Thabethe was speaking at an event organised by the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda) at Morapeng Village outside Tzaneen in Limpopo yesterday, to celebrate the success of a cooperative that Seda has assisted.

“It is not the responsibility of big business and government only to create the jobs that President Zuma promised when he delivered the State of the Nation Address last month. The cooperative whose success we are celebrating today, is a perfect example of how members of the community and government can work together to contribute to job creation and economic growth in our country. Members of this community are a good example for communities in other parts of the country to follow,” said Thabethe.

She was referring to the Emergent Farmers Enterprise Tours Agricultural Primary Cooperative established by villagers who produce pepper dew which is processed and exported to Holland and USA by an International company. More than two hundred jobs were created.

After doing a walkabout on the farm, where she was joined by MEC of Agriculture in Limpopo Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba, MEC of Public Works Thabitha Mohlala, Executive Mayor of Mopani District Municipality Leswafo Matlou, the Mayor of the Greater Tzaneen Municipality Alderman Mushwana, Mayor of the Greater Letaba Municipality Godfrey Modjadji, and the Acting Chief Operations Officer of Seda Koenie Slabbert, Thabethe said she was highly impressed by the determination of members of the cooperative who slogged and persevered on their own until Seda came to their assistance.

“We as government would like to see viable projects like these succeeding and being replicated all over the country. This project proves that cooperatives can go a long way in creating jobs and helping rural communities, in particular, better their lives. Officials from the dti will convene a meeting of all the stakeholders that can contribute in making this project grow even bigger by addressing some of the challenges that they still experience,” said Thabethe.

Slabbert said the assistance that Seda provided to the cooperative was part of its Cooperatives and Community Public Private Partnership (CPPP) programme aimed at growing sustainable enterprises in rural and peri-urban areas. The Programme – which focuses on the Agro-processing, Community Tourism and Protected Areas, Mining and Mineral Beneficiation and Trading and Auxiliary sectors - has assisted over a hundred cooperatives with a collective membership of about 3000 since its inception in September 2009. Overall, the Coops and CPPP programme aims to identify markets, resources, technical assistance and capacity-building opportunities that will enhance the competitiveness and sustainability of enterprises. This is facilitated by promoting the use of industry tools and models that enhance efficiency and planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of staff and projects.

“This cooperative is an example of an enterprise that we as Seda have supported together with other stakeholders in pursuance of our tried and tested model of working with collectively-owned enterprises that lend themselves to partnerships at local, provincial, national and international levels,” said Slabbert.

He added that Seda assisted the cooperative with registration as a formal business enterprise, and provided them with cooperative, business management, customer care and start-up training.

“Seda is in the process of assisting the cooperative to expand. We are also engaging MASHAV, Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation, through the Israeli Embassy to assist technically. Seda and MASHAV will be signing a Memorandum of Understanding next month,” announced Slabbert.

Communities interested in forming cooperatives under the Seda Cooperatives and CPPP Programme can contact the Seda Information Centre on 0860 103 703 for details of a Regional Facilitator closest to them.

ISSUED BY:                Seda - Small Enterprise Development Agency
MEDIA ENQUIRIES TO: Lindokuhle Nkomonde – Manager: Corporate Communications and Media Relations
TEL:                        012 441 1210 
Date:                      Sunday, 20 March 2011