Address by Deputy Minister Ntombazana Botha at the lauch of the Marketing Website (strokes of genius) and competition to promote arts in schools, Cape Town

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02 Apr 2009

The Programme Director
CEO of Shoprite Checkers
Mr Radi van Zyl, the Brainchild of this Project
Distinguished Guests
Esteemed members of our Community
Ladies and Gentleman

Gooienaad; Molweni; Good Evening!

It is, indeed, a privilege and a pleasure for me to be invited to launch two very important and interesting projects which, in my view, are unprecedented. The idea of providing previously disadvantaged people to have access to the Strokes of Genius website to market their products is just too good to be true. Some of them may never have dreamt of this opportunity but can now confidently tell potential buyers that “if you wish to buy anything from my collection you can go to or something like that. This is what Investing in Culture and sustainable development is about. I am sure that in a few months time we will perhaps hear success stories from the beneficiaries of this project. Thanks to Shoprite Checkers and Mr Van Zly for this wonderful idea.

The current financial pressures experienced by governments and companies of the world are as a result of the global economic downturn.  To this effect, the President of the Republic of South Africa, President Kgalema Motlanthe in the recent Job Security Conference for National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa had this to say “Like other African economies, South Africa has not been immune from the impact of this global economic crisis”

This impact, coupled with the unemployment rate of 21.9 % in South Africa as of the last quarter of 2008 and further compounded by the significantly distinct economic situation between the rich and the poor, necessitates more such public/private partnerships. This situation has been aptly dubbed as the first and second economies.

The notion of the first economy refers mainly to rich minority, advantaged, economically empowered and well-established in the mainstream economy whilst the notion of the second economy “focuses policy attention on structural inequality, disadvantage and marginalisation that marks much of South African society” (15 Year Review 2008 Report)

When the Deputy President of the Republic, Ms Baleka Mbete opened Mzansi Collection Store in Sandton last year she said “Mzansi Collection Store and the positive process it supports is a very good example of how entrepreneurs in the second economy working informally, struggling on the margins can be brought into the mainstream, and thereby become economically viable and self sustaining”

Ladies and gentlemen, we are all probably aware of the gap that exists between the first and the second economy that needs to be bridged if we are to realise the goal of sustainable economic development. We have many challenges and they vary from sector to sector and are not limited to the ones I will mention now, which I consider as critical:

  • Firstly, the collaboration and skills transfer in order to share expertise and experiences;
  • Secondly, access to markets in terms of procurement of goods and services from local service providers; and
  • Lastly, providing infrastructure for display of locally produced products

Shoprite Checkers, in partnership with some government departments, has responded positively to these challenges and has been supporting developmental initiatives such as Woman of the Year Award; Nyama-Nyama and Greenfields, where Shoprite buys meat, vegetables and fruit from local farmers; Thousand Learners, which is a youth employment and training project amongst others. These initiatives are all done in support of sustainable rural development.

Today we are launching the partnership between the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) and Shoprite Checkers through the two new partnership projects I referred to earlier. The first one is “Strokes of Genius”, an e-bay marketing project where Shoprite/Checkers will be taking the cultural products from rural areas to the world thus further instilling a culture of entrepreneurship in the supported entities.

This is a milestone indeed as Shoprite-Checkers will place good quality products on this Internet base sales portal. This portal is live and is sponsored by Shoprite-Checkers and supported by DAC and DTI. Projects that are already participating and those that are getting ready to participate are again reminded that the success of these sales and marketing initiatives will require production of good quality products in large quantities. Customers can only buy what is available and hence it is critical that projects increase their production capacity.

Today we are also taking this opportunity to announce our Arts-in-Schools Project with the theme “Shoprite Checkers Building Communities through the Arts”. This project is targeting all senior secondary schools across all nine provinces. The partnership will, therefore, be extended to our sister Department of Education.

Central to all these initiatives I have mentioned is the involvement of communities. Our people-centred approach is aimed at enabling those people who are still disadvantaged and in the periphery of economic activity to be economically empowered and to move into the mainstream economy. The aim is to encourage them to take advantage of job opportunities that may rise or to create their own jobs by starting their own businesses and co-operatives.
The DAC Investing in Culture Programme uses arts, culture and heritage as a tool to nurture the spirit of economic independence through:

    • Developing cultural productions and liveable communities
    • Increasing the employability potential of beneficiaries; and
    • Moving enterprises from survivalist to sustainable businesses (SMME’s for maximum benefit and opportunities)

It is also through our Investing in Culture Programme, amongst others, that we have supported people to develop to become community builders and entrepreneurs. Our goal, as government, is to halve unemployment by the year 2014 to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. We are, therefore, striving to instil a spirit of entrepreneurship in the beneficiaries of our programme so that they become independent and self-sufficient. No able-bodied person should see government as an employer or a source of income. However, it is important that we upscale our participation in the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP)


This partnership is also intended to provide marketing support which is ever needed to ensure sustainability of these participating and other supported projects. In my view, this is one of the many symbiotic relationships between government and the private sector intended to support the development of the Small Micro and Medium Enterprise (SMME) sector.

We would also like to see similar partnerships developing amongst other private sector players other than Shoprite/Checkers. We are happy disclose that Old Mutual and Anglo Gold South Africa have also taken a keen interest in complementing our economic development efforts.


This partnership is intended to opportunities for those exhibitors and other participating projects that are not necessarily participating in this pilot project here today to enter the mainstream economy as businesses. The Confederations Cup and 2010 Fifa World Cup which South Africa will be hosting in less than 72 and 434 days respectively is an opportunity for them to market their products. We must, however, ensure that our products are of a high standard of best quality and proudly South African. We must also ensure that we will be able to produce adequate quantities to meet the growing demand due to the influx of tourists and soccer fans. We thus need to continuously improve quality and quantity of their products to meet this demand.


Allow me to digress for a moment to remind all of you present here today that the Elections are around the corner, on 22 April 2009. Please make sure that you cast your vote on that day. It is your Constitutional right and vote wisely.


I would like to acknowledge and express our government’s deep sense of gratitude to Shoprite Checkers for the interest they have shown in these projects and for affording government the privilege to be in partnership with them as the two government departments, namely the Departments of Arts and Culture and Trade and Industry, especially in marketing and promoting arts in schools through the Strokes of Genius and Arts-in-Schools Competition, respectively.

The learners and educators are also encouraged to take the opportunity afforded to them to participate in the competition.
To our partners from the business sector that have continued to support the auction, offers made thus far are equally appreciated and we are expecting more as the end of the exhibition draws to close on Saturday.

Thank you, once again, to Mr Radi Van Zly, for his dedication to the project and his diligence.

Further support by all of us will ensure optimal utilisation of the Strokes of Genius website and thus contribute to the improvement of the life of the producers where they are without having to walk around the city streets selling their products, sometimes to people, who themselves cannot afford.

I thank you.