Dozens of youth development formations, government stakeholders, business sector representatives,media stations and activators gathered at the Jozi Urban Network Annual Expo, hosted by Blaq Apple Communications at Constitutional Hill, Johannesburg, on the 25 April 2015, to network, connect and showcase their product and projects.
Jozi Urban Network is a youth entrepreneurship networking platform with reformist activities like arts and crafts, gaming booth, food court, skate ramps, live performances, networking sessions and resource hubs from many local businesses. According to the event organizer, Tebogo Suping, last year the Jozi Urban Network assembled great young minds with the intention to connect with one another so that they can share information, opportunities and resources on their way to stardom and creating great social change impact to other young people in their areas.
Tebogo said “We wanted to show that there are young people out there with talents and skills that can contribute towards growing the economy. We wanted the very same young people to start seeing each other as primary source of skills and resources to fill the gaps or address some of the challenges they face when starting up their businesses. Basically to connect; exchange and create a resource value chain among themselves as well as stakeholders in the SMME; co-operatives and social entrepreneurship sectors.”
Tebogo said that this years’ expo connected more than 250 young people in the name of business and Gauteng provincial government official representative, Tshepo Pilane, who was at the Expo said that the reason he attended the event was because government wanted to get a sense level of entrepreneurship in the province. Pilane said another major reason for his presence at the event was that provincial government also wanted to hear young entrepreneurs’ grievances and give clarity or share relevant information that might be helpful. There was no selection process. All young people in the start-up and developing (medium) phase of their business with a product or service to offer were most welcome. That is the reason why there were some young great emerging entrepreneurs from other provinces like Kwazulu Natal, Eastern Cape, Limpopo etc.
Eastern Cape based social entrepreneur Koko Zaka applauded the event organizers. Zaka said “The event helped us to connect with other entrepreneurs and reach more clients and prospective clients. It offered us an opportunity to market our brands and products to a variety of people. The event helped us widen our reach and we made meaningful connections. I was summoned by people that believe in me. So I couldn’t disappoint. Zaka Inspirations has clients all over the country and it’s sometimes difficult for people to get my products, so this was an opportunity for me to deliver orders, display more of my product and talk more about Zaka Inspirations services.”
A Durban social change driver Nonkululeko Hlongwane said the expo opened a lot of doors for her. “The Jozi Urban Network expo for me personally was an eye opening experience. I managed to network with valuable young people and foster productive relationships. The reason why I decided to attend the Expo was to promote my product and be able to collect a database of clients as well as tangible support in the form of a petition. “
Hlongwane said the Jozi Urban Network event inspired her. “After the weekend of the Expo I started playing around with possible programmes that could be launched for activators in KZN.” Over the years the Jozi Urban Network has received support from structures which include but are not limited to: Constitution Hill; YDIDI; Department of Economic Development; Momentum; Red Bull Amaphiko; Activate; Alpha Conference Centre; Gauteng Enterprise Propeller and Premier Gauteng. There were also stands set up to collect all forms of donations for the victims of this year’s xenophobia attacks.