One hundred and fifty informal traders in eMaxesibeni (Mount Ayliff) will soon reap the benefits of new trading facilities once new infrastructure valued at R21,3 million is completed.

Mlungisi Mvoko made the announcement, the MEC for Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism in the Eastern Cape in a visit to the Alfred Nzo District today.

The informal trade infrastructure is already underway and will consist of 24 formal stalls, 96 informal trading spaces and 30 informal hawker stands.

The informal trading hub is being boosted by a new cash wash, a vehicle repair facility, ablution facility, a guardhouse and a storage area. The project funded through the Provincial Stimulus Fund will include the participation of the Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC).

The visit is the last in series to all regions to confirm that the funds from the Provincial Economic Stimulus Fund, the Imvaba Co-operative Fund, and the Local and Regional Development Fund (LRED) are being used for the intended purposes, verify the employment impact, and officially present the grants to recipients. The visit also included a handover to an LRED beneficiary, MBI Development Primary Co-operative from Ntabankulu that received R2,9 million.

The co-operative used the funding to acquire a tractor and implements, agricultural inputs and a milling plant. They also received R500 000 from ECDC’s Imvaba Cooperative Fund. “This project is indicative of the catalytic effect that government funding has on projects. In this case, 11 permanent jobs and another 80 informal jobs during the harvest season have created,” explains Mvoko.

MEC Mvoko also presented funding cheques from the Imvaba Co-operative Fund to the Uhlumolwethu Agricultural Co-operative in Bizana and the Shadows of Hope Agricultural Primary Co-operative in Ntabankulu. Each received R500,000.

The Bizana co-operative produces yellow and white maize sold for local consumption and the Mbizana RED Hub for animal feed. The funding was used to buy a tractor, plough, planter, boom sprayer, offset operational costs and retain the jobs of its six members who are youth and create 10 seasonal jobs.

In the case of the Ntabankulu co-operative involved in nursery and vegetable production, five jobs were retained/saved and more capacity for it because it was able to install a borehole and wind turbine, tunnels, buy fencing material and offset operational costs. Talking about how small entities can access funding, Mvoko says it is evident from the latest relief funding applications that some businesses that applied did not qualify because forms were incomplete and mandatory documents had not been submitted. In some cases, businesses did not comply with industry standards.

However, Mvoko says the Department is now working very closely with the municipalities to share information regarding the funding instruments, requirements and qualifying criteria to assist businesses that experienced this type of challenge.”

“In addition, the Department, through ECDC, is providing R1,5 million to help SMMEs with certification and accreditation,” he ends.

The Department is due to announce details of the revamped Local and Regional Development Fund (LRED) shortly.