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Transforming & Developing Township Event Business Industry

Although regulations and restrictions around events in South Africa have deeply affected Tourism, MICE, Cultural and Entertainment, Public sessions, Business Events, Sporting fixtures and more; in the Townships, there is still a steady hum of smaller events happening under the oversight of the Township Events Business Council SA (TEBCO).

TEBCO-SA is one of the 14 associations making up the SA Event Council. Bheki "Ma Events" Twala founded the Council in October 2018 as Townships and Villages Events Business Development and Transformation Entity, advocating for unity and a unique voice for Business Event Industry in South Africa. TEBCO- SA's Soweto Chapter "SOBEC" liaises and collaborates with the Gauteng Tourism Authority "GTA", Gauteng Economic Department and Gauteng Department of Sports Arts Culture and Heritage, Gauteng Industry Stakeholders, Organisations, Agencies and Gauteng City Regions on matters common to all segments of the Event Business Industry.

The Council's affiliation with SAEC strategically positions TEBCO-SA as a valuable voice for Township Events Businesses on a common platform alongside a wide range of industry representatives.

Twala is the President and Executive Director of both TEBCO-SA and SOBEC and has recently appointed Raylene Johnson to the position of CEO of TEBCO-SA. "Our directive is to collectively assist and empower everyone in the events industry value chain in the Townships and Rural areas. We aim to provide sustainable and meaningful platforms to Township Events Business Industry Stakeholders to exchange information and cooperate on relevant matters with a view to strengthen and grow Township business," says Johnson.

"The township business events industry is facing several challenges, and our role as TEBCO will be to create sustainable solutions to industry challenges and bring the industry together as one unique and united voice. These challenges define our role and give us the strength and direction for the industry. We are looking forward to addressing these challenges and continuing to provide sustainable solutions for Township Event Business Industry."

According to Johnson, like everyone else under Government's COVID Alert level 1 regulations and protocols, there is a slight space and flexibility in the townships to host events. While the events are very low key, mostly corporate and business events requested by Chambers, Business forums, etc., the industry has embraced the 'new normal' hybrid or virtual conferencing trends, which allow these events to include as many additional online participants as possible.

The few social events that do take place also fully comply with COVID–specific regulations and protocols. Part of TEBCO-SA's mandate is to emphasise the importance of following COVID-19 protocols for all Township Events business regardless of the size of the event. This message is communicated on all event invitations ensuring that attendees arrive prepared for the compulsory mask-wearing, screening, sanitising and social distancing required on entry.

"Many of our members have not had an income for 14 months, and yes, job losses and unemployment plague our industry, but we cannot lose hope! As humans, it is important to stay optimistic despite the difficulty and uncertainty that we are currently facing. This is our current reality, but we can only stress about the things that are within our control; the rest is up to God," adds Johnson.

"In the Township, the future is always bright! We have to move with the times, embrace the space that we are in, and make the most of it. We look forward to an even brighter future, a future where we will again unite the industry, present a cohesive industry front, and bring buyers and sellers together, providing information, education, and face-to-face opportunities to build business relationships."

-by Raylene Johnson, SA Events Council member

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