Soweto Festival 2005
The inaugural ABSA Soweto Festival took place from September 28th to October 2nd 2005 at the Elkah cricket oval in the heart of Soweto .
The festival encompassed an exposition with 350 exhibition stands, an entertainment programme that combined family entertainment with well-loved choirs, gospel, fashion and top entertainers and sports stars.
Competitions, prizes, career guidance and demonstrations made up this unique blend of fun, business and education.
“Soweto is growing so fast,” commented Festival Director Adele Lucas . “But so much of its income leaves the borders of the township as fast as it arrives. With events like the ABSA Soweto festival, we aim to change that. The original Soweto Homemakers fair in the 1980s was the first of its kind in the history of Soweto , and we intend to make the ABSA Soweto Festival the biggest and the best. We certainly intend to develop the concept and make sure that it truly is a festival for all Sowetans.”
His Honour, The Mayor of the City of Johannesburg , Cllr Amos Masondo , officially opened the Festival at a gala event on Thursday 29th September. Other dignitaries included Mr Israel Skosana, Executive Director of ABSA and Mr Peter Kwele , Marketing Executive of the SABC.
The most important aspect of the ABSA Soweto Festival was to ensure that the entire event, in all its facets, be structured to benefit each and every sector of the Soweto community.
- SMME development - Through sponsorship from Anglo American, The Gauteng Enterprise Propeller, ABSA and Adele Lucas Promotions, the Festival facilitated a programme for the economic development of over 40 SMME's and local Soweto traders.
The SMME's and traders were armed not only with the skills, training and marketing tools but also with a platform to successfully promote their businesses to potential investors, empowerment partners and financial intermediaries. It exposed these businesses to the Soweto community and the general public at large who were able to browse and compare a range of suppliers in a “one-stop-shop” environment. Furthermore, the SMME's had the opportunity to utilize this platform to network with major companies exhibiting at the Festival and in turn, these well established business were encouraged to participate in a skills sharing programme. Several SMME won contracts at the Expo and reported an excellent response from the public.
- Tourism - The secondary, and equally important aim, was to promote Soweto as a tourism destination, highlight the multitude of tourism opportunities in Soweto and to produce an annual event that creates sustainable employment opportunities for the community.
- A lasting legacy – Portions of the proceeds from the Festival will lead to the development of a permanent multi-use facility. This facility will house an exhibition hall and multi-purpose community center, a permanent tourist craft market and will provide a venue for regular small business development programmes in conjunction with the private sector and development agencies. Alternatively, and at the request of City of Johannesburg 's Region 6, the viability of renovating and upgrading of Jabavu Expo centre will be given serious consideration.