By ANNISA ESSACK
2 AUGUST 2021
On 16 July 2021, Kwazulu Natal was dealt a devastating blow when the Isipingo market, south of Durban, became a target of widespread looting and violence. An essential section of the market, providing an affordable and invaluable service to the local community, was destroyed.
A group of concerned Muslim organisations have joined forces to rebuild and upskill the African and Indian fruit and vegetable traders who worked shoulder to shoulder for many years.
According to Shabir Chohan, spokesperson for the group, a micro-business is a marginal profit enterprise that provides a basic income. Without these enterprises, the owners and their families would face bleak prospects for the future.
“With this in mind, we decided on a strategic intervention where we could have the most socio-economic impact, not just on the hawkers, but on the community as well,” he said.
The assisting organisations, as per Chohan, possess immediate access to accounting, legal, business, finance, humanitarian and even pastoral skill sets and will focus first on providing a micro-finance model comprising grants, loans and commercial funding for qualifying candidates.
“It is at grassroots where we feel the work has to be done. The funding of the hawkers allows them to start up again and contribute positively to the economic recovery of the area.”
He further added that the re-establishment of the section of the market would also allow the REHOP initiative to upskill and empower the traders.
“This is a golden opportunity to help them grow beyond what they were before. Maybe some of them can even become big business owners one day,” he said.
Chohan further emphasised that the initiative was being conducted via strategic partnerships, which were key to the recovery. The eThekwini authorities, the fruit and vegetable suppliers, financial institutions and experts were all on board, working towards the upliftment of the market.
REHOP has already obtained two shipping containers, delivered on-site on Saturday 31 July 2021, serving as a temporary office. The previous office was petrol bombed and gutted during the unrest.
“We are totally committed to rebuilding our city. We have to create the social cohesion that is the fabric of stability. We see the REHOP Initiative as an imperative. By taking one step at a time, we hope to contribute to the emergence of a new dawn where all South Africans can feel safe, secure in the knowledge that they have a future,” he said.
Below is a list of some organisations participating in the initiative:
Association of Muslim for Accountants and Lawyers (AMAL)
Growing Hands Enterprise Development NPC
Minara Chamber of Commerce
Muslims for Humanity
National Awqaf Foundation of South Africa (AWQAFSA)
South African Muslim Charitable Trust (SAMCT)
United Ulama Council of South Africa (UUCSA)