Social schemes can drive jobs: Patel

2011-04-05 08:30

Johannesburg - Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel has called for a stronger support agency and training academies for social entrepreneurs, noting that social enterprises have the potential to contribute to the government's drive to create five million jobs in nine years.

Speaking at the official opening of the fourth annual Social Enterprise World Forum in Johannesburg on Monday night, Patel said if South Africa's social enterprise sector grew closer to the international norm, at least 260 000 new jobs would be created.

In terms of the new growth path, government has set a target of five million new jobs by 2020.

Patel said social economy was one of the "job drivers" on which the five million jobs target rested.

The developmental returns of the social economy and social enterprise were enormous, he said.

Social economy refers to economic activities that are undertaken by entities such as cooperatives, mutual societies, voluntary and community organisations, union investment vehicles and foundations.

The minister said social economy could contribute to a more labour absorbing and equitable economy, citing a study of 36 countries that showed that the non-profit sector outpaced the overall growth of employment by nearly 2.5 to 1.

Between 1990 and 2004, employment in European cooperatives rose from 2.2 million to 5.4 million.

Cooperatives form a crucial part of rural development in India, Thailand, Korea and Japan, he said.

Social economy, the minister said, was frequently under-recognised, under-appreciated and under-marketed.

Patel said comprehensive government and public support were needed for social economy entities in South Africa.

This included assistance with marketing, bookkeeping, technological and financial services, based in part on stronger cooperative support agency and training academies, he said.

Patel also said there were opportunities for social entrepreneurs to work with unions and community investment companies to develop a charter with commitments to job creation.

"We need to increase state procurement from and service delivery through entities in the social economy," he added.

Patel said what the government sought to promote was a partnership with the University of Johannesburg based on "concrete targets" for establishment, growth in turnover and size of employment in social enterprises.

The university's Centre for Social Entrepreneurship and Social Economy is helping host the Social Enterprise World Forum, which is being held in Africa for the first time.

Patel said it would require that the university become a partner in hands-on mentoring, support and training with social entrepreneurs.

  • Thabo Matwabeng - 2011-04-05 10:25

    Europe, India, Thailand, Japan, Korea. All of them place a very high value on education and show significant better outcomes for their education spend. Fix the schools, then worry about the rest. Start with the teachers and COSATU and the stranglehold they have on performance based measurement. The ANC is effectively buying off support and votes from COSATU with the lives of our children. A compromise reached in the late 90's that infected all of the public sector was the scrapping of performance measures in public sector. Now you will get an increase if you just show up (and in many cases that does not even happen). Why can one township school achieve a 100% pass rate and another a 0% pass rate, year after year, but those teachers still work there?

  • JA South Africa - 2011-04-12 11:42

    Junior Achievement SA has recognised the need to create jobs, coupled with the enormous contribution social entrepreneurs make to a national economy. With this in mind, over 380 000 young people have been trained in entrepreneurial skills, while being actively encouraged to start their own small businesses instead of entering the job market, often in vain attempts to obtain any meaning full employment. A number of new initiatives have recently been introduced with a specific focus on social entrepreneurship and innovation. Through being exposed to existing social enterprises and innovative solutions to social needs and problems, students are encouraged to think creatively about solutions while earning an income for themselves. In addition, through a programme developed and tested by Duke University MBA students, students will embark on a process of observing and really understanding the real needs of their communities, before trying to find solutions. Through brainstorming exercises, students develop sustainable solutions to social problems that can be researched as possible business opportunities. In this way, our students not only are provided with skills to identify and solve social problems but with the skills to turn the solutions into opportunities to earn an income –real social entrepreneurs. Mr Patel has to be commended to drawing attention to a sector of our economy about which little is known and is highly under rated as a contributor to the economy.

  • dagwood4455 - 2011-08-12 06:40

    dear Mr Patel, I know you are a communist, BUT please sir, wake up, jobs are created by entrepreneurs .... rather endeavor yourself to create an environment where business can flourish

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