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Meaningful collaboration and partnerships key to business growth

Thabo Lebelo, the Chief Executive Officer of the Free State Development Corporation, gives details on how the FDC is delivering on its mandate to create a conducive environment for entrepreneurs to thrive and for inward investment into the provincial economy.

In line with Free State Growth and Development Strategy and the mandate of broadening access to economic opportunities for the Free State-based business sector, the Free State Development Corporation (FDC) will continue to unlock business opportunities for both local and foreign direct investors.

The World Bank Group flagship report, June 2020, projected a global GDP contraction of 5.2%. The South African real GDP is also expected to go down by 7.2% in 2020 due to the economic restrictions that were implemented by government through its risk-adjusted alert levels in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The rand has depreciated significantly against the US dollar since the beginning of the year. All of these challenges present a very difficult road ahead. The economic recovery will need all the social partners to hold hands and work together.

Both the national and provincial government have provided some relief to businesses in one form or another. The FDC has also partnered with government departments to assist businesses in distress in order to cushion the blow caused by the global health crisis.

The Covid-19 pandemic has dealt a tremendous blow to our SMMEs. Many have been forced to shut their operations for months due to the lockdown regulations. This has had a negative impact on their survival and sustainability with some downsizing their operations, while others have had to cease operations. The FDC continues to foster partnerships with various stakeholders from municipalities, government departments and other state entities with the aim of advancing SMME development, promoting exports, attracting investments within the province and most importantly, saving businesses.

As an organisation, we believe that the best way to grow the Free State and the country is through meaningful collaboration and partnerships which allows us to pool all our resources together for the betterment of our entrepreneurs.

This Free State Business 2021 publication presents the Free State’s value proposition as a business and tourism destination. Key opportunities in the Free State include the following:

  • A leading agricultural commodities producer presents significant opportunities across the agro-processing value chain.
  • Aquaculture activities associated with the Gariep Dam.
  • Sheep farming and related value-chain processing.
  • Tourism development potential leveraging off heritage sites and assets.
  • Engineering opportunities within the Lejweleputswa District as a result of excellent engineering training and capacity-building within the mining sector.
  • Jewellery beneficiation.
  • The Maluti-A-Phofung Special Economic Zone (MAP SEZ), situated at Tshiame in Harrismith
    in the Thabo Mafutsanyane District in the Eastern Free State is targeting investments into the province. This SEZ is situated midway between the biggest port in Africa, Durban, and the biggest market in Africa, Gauteng.
  • The Industrial Parks in Sasolburg, the anchor town of the Metsimaholo Municipality in the Fezile Dabi District in the Northern Free State are available for rental to industrial tenants.
Thabo Lebelo, CEO of the FDC

We will utilise all our resources in creating a conducive environment for entrepreneurs to thrive and unleash the potential of the provincial economy to grow through our commitment to:

  • Relationship building.
  • Commitment to our customers and investors.
  • Economic transformation for the common good of all our people.
  • Assisting investors with accessing incentives and grants where available.

With the continued support from the provincial government, we will indeed grow the Free State.


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