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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Soweto Business Community Igniting its entrepreneurial spirit


The Greater Soweto Business Expo is excited to launch its inaugural SMME skills development and training programme that will culminate into an exciting and interactive business expo that will be hosted at the University of Johannesburg from the 21st to 24th September. The Soweto Business Expo will be a melting pot of arts, culture, youth education and entertainment and SMME development and empowerment.

Contrary to the statement released by Managing Director of Adele Lucas Promotions, Toby Chance stating that the Soweto Business Expo was a competitive event styling itself as the Soweto Festival causing great confusion for exhibitors and sponsors, the Soweto Business Expo hosted the beginning of many parallel strategic events, an interactive SMME workshop  that was welcomed by hundreds of SMME’s from the Soweto and surrounding business communities who were excited and applauded the Greater Soweto Business Forum for aligning itself with National Planning Commissions’ strategy that recognises that communities require an approach where people are active champions of their own development and where government and the public sector partner with them to develop their potential and capabilities to enable them to lead the lives they desire.


“Many question marks hang over this event, including the identity of its sponsors, and I will be issuing another statement on the matter when the true facts come to light,” Chance said.

The only significant confusion we believe exists is with Mr Chance’s understanding of the origins of the Soweto Business Expo.

In 1983 the Soweto Chamber of Commerce, created the Soweto community based initiative called the Homemakers Festival. The Soweto Chamber of Commerce procured the coordination and event management services of Adele Lucas of Adele Lucas Promotions who at that time, a pioneer in the PR and Events Management Industry. The event was a phenomenal success and was hosted from 1983 to 1985. In 2005, at the urging of the City of Johannesburg, the event was reborn as the Soweto Festival with Absa as the title sponsor. From 2005 to 2008 many questions hung over this event that had excluded the Chamber of Soweto and the Soweto Business Community.

In 2008 when the City of Johannesburg launched for the first time in history, an Economic Development Plan for Soweto, the former executive mayor Councillor Amos Masondo constituted the Greater Soweto Business Forum which was to be single voice and an umbrella body representing the businesses in Soweto, that brought together SOBICO, SOBEC, SATSA, Johannesburg Chamber, Soweto Tourism, Soweto Manufacturers and the organisation that developed the Homemakers Expo, the Chamber of Soweto.

In 2009 the City of Johannesburg urged Adele Lucas Promotions, in order to continue to benefit from the financial and non financial support of the City of Johannesburg, to align the Soweto Festival Expo with Soweto’s economic development plan and partner with the Greater Soweto Business Forum. The partnership was formed from 2009 until 2011 but in 2010 when the City of Johannesburg stopped all financial and non financial support for the Soweto Festival Expo, it was clear to the GSBF and the community of Soweto that the Soweto Festival Expo was not fulfilling the regions development agenda.

 In 2011 it become glaringly evident when the event moved out of the Soweto community completely, into Nasrec, in the process excluded several Soweto SMME’s who were excluded from the events procurement processes due to private stakeholders who had the naming rights at Nasrec. In 2012 when the Soweto Festival Expo could not even secure sponsor to host the event it was clear to the GSBF that we could not fail the Soweto Business Community and our SMME’s and were going back to what the Homemakers and the reincarnation of the Homemakers was about the community of Soweto.

“The Soweto Business Expo at the University of Johannesburg Soweto campus is misrepresenting itself as the Soweto Festival Expo, causing great confusion for exhibitors and sponsors,” commented Toby Chance, Managing Director of Adele Lucas Promotions.


The Soweto Business Expo at the University of Johannesburg Soweto campus is misrepresenting itself as the Soweto Festival Expo, causing great confusion for exhibitors and sponsors,” commented Toby Chance, Managing Director of Adele Lucas Promotions.

“Contrary to Mr Toby Chance of Adele Lucas Promotions, when the Soweto Chamber of Commerce initiated the Homemakers Festival which became the Soweto Festival Expo and requested Adele Lucas to coordinate it from the chamber, he was still in Scotland” commented Mr Churchill Mrasi chairperson of the Greater Soweto Business Expo “except that he was using it, as a cash cow for himself and his family. This event belongs to the businesses and community of Soweto and we are certainly not imitating an event we originally created”

 We have the support of the City of Johannesburg, Soweto Community, media partners, development agencies and more specifically the hundreds of small entrepreneurs from all over Gauteng who rely every year on the GSBF to assist them in expanding their businesses. The real tragedy is events and initiatives that misrepresent themselves as developmental projects at the expense of previously marginalized members of the community. We applaud the government departments, parastatal bodies, agencies at local, provincial and national levels who will ensure that the Soweto Business Expo is a great success for the community and businesses in Soweto.

For more information please visit www.gsbf.co.za or Call Ms Imogene Phaladi on 083 264 7105 or Mr Churchill Mrasi on 072 758 8657


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