Key Themes

Themes of Entrepreneurship

A common theme in many CTPC projects is the need to create jobs and support entrepreneurship within a community. This is a cohesive aspiration among the pathway group because one of the main goals is to introduce methods of job creation along the Black River. Past projects provide insight on what can bring success and failure.

In 2008, WPI students created a plan to simultaneously advance informal settlement housing in Monwabisi Park and generate local employment opportunities. The team analysed the settlement’s current economic conditions in order to develop a plan for economic growth.  Redevelopment included things such as EcoBeam structures, a simple and affordable housing option that would create local jobs for the community. In addition, the local economy had potential to be rooted in a bag sewing factory that would also contribute to housing development. One of the biggest issues they faced was finding an adequate manager for these developments in order to ultimately be successful and sustainable.  Issues of jealousy and power largely affected this project (Codding et al. 2008).

Similarly, in 2009, a WPI project group ventured to create sustainable economic development in Monwabisi Park.  Among other goals, exploring innovative ways to create jobs was a priority.  The team developed a plan to incorporate a sewing centre at the Indlovu Project.  Because of settlement dynamics such as space availability and community tensions, the team came up with a sewing centre prototype.  The biggest issue that the team faced what how to make the sewing centre sustainable.  After observation of the prototype it was clear that the supervision of a veteran sewer was necessary to keep the projecting moving forward.  Before the team left, they researched a couple of groups that could help sustain the centre.  The team also explored jobs that could come from tourism crafting. To look into this further, the team visited multiple tourist sites and compiled craft suggestions (Herries et al. 2009).

In 2010, four students investigated the mechanisms of spaza shop ownership in the informal settlement Monwabisi Park. The students mapped shop locations and interviewed owners to gain an understanding of shop history, shop difficulties, credit problems, supplier relationships, recordkeeping, business training, competitive mind-sets, cooperative mind-sets and future plans. Their project culminated in a three day business training workshop that thirteen shop owners attended. An initiative also began for creating a coalition between the spaza shop owners of Monwabisi Park (Chebelyon- Dalizu et al. 2009).

In 2011, students explored urban job creation through beekeeping businesses.  Beekeeping opens many doors for job creation and resources for the community such as propilis, honey, and wax. The team worked with seven beekeepers and attended training workshops. The workshops focused on appointing leadership roles, filling out legal documents, creating a constitution and creating business plans. The team emphasised tools such as taking meeting notes and creating timelines for goal accomplishment. By the end of the project the team left the beekeepers with the tools they needed to start their business as well as their first round of product (Cadwal-Lader et al. 2011).

The themes outlined in these entrepreneurship projects are quite relevant to our project for this year, even if the content itself has a different focus. Each team’s techniques and considerations provide an opportunity for us to learn, as well as valuable insight for our specific focus with the pathway and agricultural initiatives.

Themes of Agriculture

One of the ways of increasing entrepreneurship is to focus on agricultural opportunities. “Sustainable Garden Options for Monwabisi Park,” which was completed in 2009, did extensive work analysing the environment they were working in, educating the community on gardening techniques, researching different type of implementable gardens, and working with other groups around obstacles to ensure their efforts wouldn’t be offset. The team felt that an initial effort to see what would grow well and what people would like to see in their garden is essential for the sustainability of the gardens once they left. Education and different gardening techniques for the plan were also important to provide the groundwork for knowledge and flexibility (Madden et al., 2009). These are all aspects of a gardening start-up project that need to be considered for this year’s work along the Black River. Overall, the research and collaboration that the group did in Cape Town is a tool for us to learn, and the most successful aspects are something our group should look at closely.