Insights

Unlocking Land for Micro-Enterprise Growth: A Solution Lab

SLF has embarked on a research project entitled ‘Unlocking Land for Micro-Enterprise Growth’ (ULMEG), which has grown from the findings of our flagship project ‘Formalising Informal Micro Enterprises (FIME). Through FIME we have illustrated ways in which land use management systems have intentionally (as well as unintentionally) reinforced Apartheid era town planning and spatial injustice, instead of nurturing economic growth. Compliance with land management systems is near to impossible for micro enterprises, giving entrepreneurs no choice but to trade illegally. We have termed this reality: ‘Enforced Informalisation’.

In order to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges that current land-related policies bring to entrepreneurship, the ULMEG research process included a visual story-telling workshop, facilitated by members of the SLF team back in October. Four men and six women who run small businesses in the townships of Philippi and Delft participated in the workshop. All of these participants have a strong interest in land use issues and are affected by land management systems in their daily lives. The businesses that they represent include unregistered Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres, informal liquor outlets and trade on the street. SLF Director Dr. Andrew Charman also took part in the workshop, sharing his own story about the obstacles of land policy from the formal small business perspective (SLF). The 10 digital stories that were produced through the participatory visual workshop shed new light on the ways that land use management has an impact on the personal lives and livelihoods of township entrepreneurs. 

To view the final products of the 4 main digital stories, please follow the links below:

  1. A STRUGGLE FOR LAND OWNERSHIP  https://vimeo.com/246094175?ref=tw-share
  2. LANIE’S EDUCARE  https://vimeo.com/246087750?ref=tw-share
  3. LOCKED IN A NUTSHELL  https://vimeo.com/246069753?ref=tw-share
  4. ISIBANE ESIBANE ESIGAPHELELWA OLI https://vimeo.com/245908503?ref=tw-share

For further viewing, check out our SLF Vimeo account for the remaining stories: JOSEPH TAKES A RISK; BROKEN HEART; ZUKISANI’S BUSINESS CHALLENGE; THE CHALLENGE IN OPENING MY BUSINESS; N DONKER DAG IN MY LEWE.

As part of the SLF project ULMEG, SLF in collaboration with UrbanWorks held the first ‘solutions lab’ workshop in Johannesburg on the 22nd of November. The objective of this event is to facilitate a discussion among influential stakeholder from civil society, government and business around the challenge of unlocking land in the township economy. To inform the discussion, SLF/UrbanWorks showcased the results of our research on land systems constraints in Ivory Park. This research details the specific land use systems that impact on business development and enterprise formalisation in 12 case studies. The research output comprised a visual exhibition and a publication available via the SLF website. In addition, the participants were given copies of our study on ‘Post-Apartheid Spatial Inequality’ and shown two of the digital stories on the experience of people seeking to formalise their business in Delft and Philippi. Some of the most memorable quotations from the subsequent discussion were: ‘there is a deep seated structural bias against township business’; within municipalities ‘there is paralysing fear’ which inhibits land use change; millions of urban black South African still don’t possess title deeds whilst ‘the idea that black people can have the same title as whist is still [an] alien [concept]’; ‘not all land is created equal’; and ‘companies have a role in solving.

 

By Nathi Tshabalala and Dr Andrew Charman

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