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New hub will be boost for community

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The once drab and dusty Galeshewe Open Air Arena was transformed into the colourful ‘Galeshewe Active Box’, an informal traders hub that was officially launched by Sol Plaatje executive mayor Kagisho Sonyoni this week.

The new informal traders hub. Picture: Soraya Crowie

THE ONCE drab and dusty Galeshewe Open Air Arena was transformed into the colourful “Galeshewe Active Box”, an informal traders hub that was officially launched by Sol Plaatje executive mayor Kagisho Sonyoni this week.

The hub is envisaged to contribute to a more liveable, resilient, safe, economically-thriving and vibrant Galeshewe.

The project was made possible through Sol Plaatje Municipality’s participation in the ‘GIZ Cities Challenge 2.0’, aimed at contributing to “Building Vibrant and Resilient Neighbourhoods”, in May last year.

The Cities Challenge 2.0 is an initiative led by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ) in partnership with Cities Alliance and UN-Habitat.

It aims to pilot innovative solutions for sustainable planning and building and contributing to the creation of climate-adapted, connected and liveable neighbourhoods.

The participation was also part of the city’s ongoing efforts to transform the Activity Route, which links Galeshewe to the Kimberley CBD.

The traders hub is complemented by the beautification of the surrounding public space, along with an urban gardening project near Hulana Park and a Heritage Walk.

It is centred around the traditional use of clay bricks in the area, all of which contribute to an active and more liveable space.

By winning the competition, Sol Plaatje Municipality was awarded a small-scale grant through the Cities Challenge 2.0 to implement the Galeshewe Active Box.

The project saw five women from the same ward benefit from the initiative, through the donation of operating containers in order to boost their businesses.

It carries the potential of being the response to the current material conditions, being limited opportunities in the business sector and gender-based violence.

The hub features a number of small lockable trading spaces and a service hub, with an elevated viewpoint that provides oversight of the surrounding area, also contributing to safety along the Activity Route.

It can also be used as a meeting area for community activities.

The construction placed emphasis on the gender-specific needs of female traders, providing them with important infrastructure such as electricity connections, water and sanitation facilities, storage space and wi-fi hot-spots.

In a further nod to sustainability, the area surrounding the hub features water-smart plants and greening, designed for the semi-arid conditions of the Province.

The Galeshewe Active Box was one of four projects from South Africa, India, Mexico and Bangladesh awarded development grants, following a call for proposals.

These Urban Living Labs are small-scale interventions through multi-stakeholder partnerships that contribute to global agendas and development goals.

Urban Living Labs receive 100,000 euro grants for sustainable construction and upgrading activities, as well as greening initiatives at the neighbourhood level.

They are further lauded for improving the quality of public spaces, the social infrastructure, the living conditions and the resilience of residents.

The Labs brought together different levels of government, civil society, private sector actors and the local communities to promote participatory and multi-disciplinary interventions.

They are primarily implemented by local co-operation partners and NGOs in co-ordination with GIZ.

In this regard, participating partners with GIZ were the national Department of Co-operative Governance (DCOG), Global Affairs Canada (GAC), Cities Challenge 2.0, Violence Prevention Through Urban Upgrading (VPUU), German Co-operating, Galeshewe Youth Heritage, Inclusive Violence and Crime Prevention Programme (VCP), Galeshewe Youth Network (GYN) and Sprint.

The DCOG representative explained that the journey towards the launch of the project initially started in 2016 when the government adopted the Integrated Urban Development Framework policy.

In the framework, South Africa had to address challenges faced by communities living in underprivileged urban areas.

He expressed gratitude towards the successful conceptualisation and implementation of the project.

“The policy that I am talking about encourages collaboration between government, the private sector, the communities and international partners, to solve problems that are faced by our communities,” he said.

He added that Sol Plaatje Municipality was among the 39 local municipalities benefiting from the Intermediate Support Programme, whereby they work with German and Canadian partners to afford the municipalities to participate in a global competition.

GAC representative Musawenkosi Tshuma said they contributed to the project to enhance and contribute to the topic of gender-based violence and gender transformative approaches in South Africa.

She highlighted that informal traders are the backbone of the local economy.

“This hub is testimony of the value that the municipality places on entrepreneurial spirit,” she said.

“Your presence, I believe, will contribute to the transformation of the street into lively corridors of commerce, contributing not only to the economic well-being of this community, but also infusing our neighbourhood with unique and vibrant character.

“We are not just launching a traders hub, but a community hub. A place where friendships are forged, where stories are shed, and also where the spirit of unity prevails.

The five jubilant female beneficiaries – Tshiamo Modise, Mpho Mojaki, Maria Kompo, Letlhogonolo Letshabane and Mary-Gold Moalahi – were given the keys to their containers.

They expressed pride in finally having a permanent operating space in their community.

The women, who are all in the food industry, expressed pride and gratitude towards Sol Plaatje Municipality and Active Box for giving their businesses “dignity”. They said they are confident that their clients will be able to reach them easier now.

Maria Kompo, who could not contain her excitement, said this was a real “breakthrough” for her business. She has been selling African cuisine for the past 30 years.

“I started selling food at home and when I experienced growth I moved my business to town, while searching for a place to operate from.

“I then registered for business in 2014, while looking for a stall, and continued to operate until I approached Sol Plaatje Municipality, where I learned about these stalls,” she said.

“I thank God for giving me that official from the municipality who assisted me in getting this stall. At least now my clients reach me easier because I’m in Hulana, the Activity Route,” she boasted.

Mary-Gold Moalahi, who sells braai plates, said her wish is to grow her business so that she can also own a juice and ice cream machine. That way, she said, she will be able to empower more women while her business experiences growth.

Twenty-four-year-old Tshiamo Modise sells water at her container.

She said she started running her business, ‘Kusini Water’, after she won the Kusini Water Champions competition, which was sponsored by Nedbank.

“They empower young people in order to empower the community. After winning, they give you the entire kiosk, which includes the purification system, bottles and all that you will need to start your business. You have to identify a site and start your own business, trading under their name, Kusini Water,” she explained.

“Given the state of the water supply in Kimberley, this was a great opportunity for me as an entrepreneur to provide a solution for the people.

“This is also good for me in terms of expanding and becoming the businesswoman that I aspire to be. It’s so beneficial to my community … giving them safe, quality drinking water is absolutely amazing. So I’m grateful to Sol Plaatje Municipality for this opportunity and getting this space that many entrepreneurs wish they had.”

The Open Air Arena was identified as the ideal space for the Galeshewe Active Box initiative after the funders shopped around and took a closer look at about five suitable sites within the Sol Plaatje municipal area.

Sonyoni urged the community to jealously guard the premises against vandalism.

He lauded the township economy for having the potential to encourage innovation and development of new businesses.

“I believe that the launch of this Active Box project will foster a culture of self-realisation and resilience within the community and create role-models who inspire others to pursue their entrepreneurial aspirations,” said Sonyoni.

Sol Plaatje executive mayor Kagisho Sonyoni launched the Galeshewe Active Box this week. Picture: Soraya Crowie
Sol Plaatje executive mayor Kagisho Sonyoni stands next to the Active Box plaque. Picture: Boipelo Mere
One of the beneficiaries, Letlhogonolo Mashabane, is handed her key by Councillor Kgadiete. Picture: Boipelo Mere
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