South African government to rebuild trust and promote entrepreneurs
(Editor: Alex Smit-Stachowski is speaking in her column about life as a South African now living in Germany. The South African journalist lives in Krefeld, in North Rhine-Westphalia/ Germany).
The South African government recognises it should improve service delivery, “rebuild trust with the NGOs” and address that the “inequality gap is widening,” said Nonceba Mashalaba, Chief Director: Programme Monitoring and Evaluation – The Incentive Development and Administration Division at the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), in Frankfurt recently.
Addressing “Frauen in der Wirtschaft in Deutschland und Südafrika”, a select group of top female businesswomen from Germany and South Africa, hosted by Brand South Africa, Ms. Mashalaba said that tackling service delivery, rebuilding partnerships with NGOs and finding solutions for the widening gap between rich and poor is of utmost concern – and that the government will be tackling these shortly.
With her no-nonsense air, Nonceba (pronounced: Non–(click tongue against front teeth to make Tth sound)–eba), drily says “I am Xhosa!” with a smile, has held the post of Chief Director: Programme Monitoring and Evaluation – The Incentive Development and Administration Division at DTI since 2011 and monitors the incentives granted to small and medium-size businesses.
She is constantly pleasantly surprised by the resourcefulness of her fellow South Africans and talks of a woman who lives in Umtata, Transkei who has developed her own organic fertilizer from worm-farming! The entrepreneur has found an excellent way to beat poverty in her area, Nonceba believes – and it is such stories, that provide fuel for her working-day fire.
At 56 years old, she has worked her way up the ladder. This leader began as a clerk in the Department of Education during Apartheid era South Africa, then taught economics at the University of Transkei, later joined the government as a senior economic researcher and followed this by working with former Minister Trevor Manuel to help compile the yearly police budget. “I was working with budgets of up to 50 billion rands!” she told an awed audience, many of whom could never imagine working with such vast amounts of money.
However, after four years working as Director (Budget analyst) – Public Finance Division, National Treasury, Nonceba got bored – it was the same thing each year, she wanted a challenge and cast her eye out to see if there was another post for her. After rejecting the post of Chief Director Product Development – The Enterprise Organisation Division at DTI twice, “the job description was just too vague, I didn’t know what they wanted for me!” – head-hunters convinced her to apply and she got the job.
Her task was to design and review incentive programmes to support small and medium enterprises and also monitor and evaluate these, which she did ably for three years before her current post which monitors the incentive programmes’ performance, sees her compile and publish regular reports and conduct Evaluation Studies to provide feedback.
Studying her MBA in Economics in the US plus her background as an educator in South Africa, has left Nonceba with a clear view of what is important. She prides herself in ensuring women are given preference when it comes to loans and on hiring the disabled in her department. Supporting young black business entrepreneurs is vital for the growth in the South African economy and she worries that this market is not as thriving as it could be.
“We need strategic partners,” she says knowledgeably, “Businesses to partner with the government provincially.” Government might provide the groundwork for the wannabe businessman or businesswoman but it is vital that established businesses in the region, help by, for instance – providing facilities for training or going into partnerships to lower costs for the new entrepreneur. In the case of the Umtata worm-farmer – she should be receiving professional marketing assistance which would ensure her idea makes a real difference in Africa. This would be enabled by established businesses going into partnership with the South African government.