Founder and Director of the Centre for Local Economic Development (CENLED) based at the University of Johannesburg, Professor Marius Venter delivered a webinar titled: Exploring Local Economic Development (LED) in South Africa Pre and During the COVID-19 Pandemic.
The event was part of UKZN’s Graduate School of Business and Leadership (GSB&L) Webinar Series that aims to empower postgraduate students, alumni and business partners with information that will enable them to navigate the unprecedented challenges presented by the pandemic.
Venter’s presentation was based on his more than 30 years’ hands-on experience in small business development and entrepreneurial activities, mainly in the local government sphere.
‘If you want to be an LED implementer, you have to be an LED champion. This is the lesson I learned as a small business owner who owned a franchise, and had a PhD, but was unemployed for two years. We need to look at entrepreneurship development from an early age and prioritise the value of lifelong learning,’ said Venter.
He highlighted that the LED core policy pillars are crucial for the realisation of South Africa’s vision of local economies that are inclusive, world class, dynamic places and brands in which to invest and create wealth that is widely shared and benefits the majority of local people.
‘The informal sector has flourished and grown during COVID-19 and it will continue to do so after the pandemic. However, COVID-19 has shown the importance of municipalities planning for scenarios. I don’t know of any municipality that had a plan for a scenario such as a pandemic, or even has a plan for climate change, war or food security, etc. Municipalities have to ensure that infrastructure is in place because we can’t attract business without it,’ he said.
Venter called on LED specialists and universities, especially postgraduate researchers to use the lessons from the pandemic to strengthen LED in the post-COVID-19 world.
Senior lecturer and interim Academic Leader in Teaching and Learning at the GSB&L Dr Xoliswa Majola said that as a business school, the GSB&L prides itself on enriching students with knowledge from thought leaders to enhance their understanding of today’s turbulent business environment.
Words: Thandiwe Jumo