A TOWNSHIP entrepreneur who was taken under the wing of the Graduate School of Business four years ago will be one of a handful of community-based entrepreneurs from across the SADC region to exhibit his wares at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) later this year.
Joe Dileza – or Paper Joe as he is better known – is one of just nine entrepreneurs chosen by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) to take part in a project to showcase at the Summit community-based enterprises that rely on natural resources. The initiative aims to ensure that natural resource dependent entrepreneurs have a voice at the WSSD and that their issues are placed on the policy agenda.
As part of the honour Dileza, who makes natural paper using reeds in the Liesbeeck River (thereby helping to keep excess reed growth at bay), will be included in a wider publicity drive and media campaign around the project. He will also feature in a documentary about the nine entrepreneurs that will be screened on national and international TV, as well as at venues at the WSSD.
Denise Dookoo, Emerging Enterprises Consulting (EEC) Administrative Coordinator at the GSB says that Dileza's selection to the IUCN team is truly thrilling. "It is wonderful to see someone rewarded for what they are doing," she said. "We feel sure that his experiences will benefit all those that hear the story as well as Joe himself as his business continues to grow. His selection is also a real feather in the GSB's cap because it shows that we are succeeding in promoting emerging enterprises. The networks that will develop from the WSSD will help him expand his business further and help create more employment in the Western Cape."
"It is a great honour for me," agrees Dileza. "I never expected to be part of so great an event."
Dileza came to Cape Town from the Transkei in 1986 in search of his fortune – armed with nothing more than a pair of pliers. For a while he made a living cutting garden hedges before being introduced by one of his employers to the world of paper making. Inspired by his experiences, Dileza decided to go into the paper business himself. He continued with his day job while working nights to get his own business off the ground.
His relationship with the GSB began in 1999 when he signed up to take part in the School's Emerging Enterprises Consulting programme in an effort to equip himself with some much-needed business skills. The programme is one of the electives on the MBA programme and matches emerging enterprises with teams of MBA students. The students then help these businesses with basic business training. Dileza also received a grant through the GSB to fund the purchase of a much-needed paper press last year, which has helped to speed up the paper making process as well as improving the quality of the paper he produces.
The WSSD will take place in Johannesburg from August 26 to September 4 and will be the biggest conference ever held on the African continent.