The quest for rural enterprise support strategies that work—the case of Mineworkers' Development Agency
During the 1990s, 300 000 jobs were lost in South Africa'smining industry. Mineworkers'Development Agency was set up to create jobs through small enterprise in the rural areas from where the mineworkers originated: areas which are now largely without a culture of production. This article describes why MDA moved from supporting co-operatives to individual enterprises. The support encompasses cost-covering business supply centres, as well as product development, marketing, training and counselling, which are covered by user fees and subsidies. MDA aimed to diversify the local supply market by offering training in a wide range of skills; however, only a narrow range of training was taken up, and impact assessments showed that the returns to the enterprises started were very low. MDA then attempted to help businesses reach new, higher-value markets, and is currently developing the production and marketing or marula oil. The role of the agency, and the need to hand over marketing to local private traders is discussed.