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EPWP Entrepreneurship Trainee Programme ignites growth

Matthew Byron, the owner of Southern Fires, a fireplace installation business based in Fish Hoek, was one of the 136 entrepreneurs who took part in the City of Cape Town’s EPWP Entrepreneurship Trainee Programme, established in 2022. Participation in this programme catalysed significant growth and innovation in his family-owned business.

 Launched in 2020 and initially staffed by a modest team of two, Southern Fires has since expanded its workforce and revised its business model to enable additional growth. Through the comprehensive training and development modules offered by the programme, Byron has honed his skills in financial management, marketing and leadership.


This has not only allowed him to employ two additional staff members, but also to strategically reshape his business model and access new markets through marketing strategies.


‘The collaborative approach to the programme has allowed me to think out of the box, and as entrepreneurs we used this as an incubator for our ideas. We used each other’s experiences to validate our assumptions and plans. For some businesses, it was an opportunity to learn what not to do from the seasoned entrepreneurs and use the learning we gained to launch our businesses further ahead. For others, it was the validation that they needed that they’re on the right path.


‘The biggest help for me has been the coaches and the systems. Having to juggle a couple of business and other focuses, the coaches helped me grow. They showed me that there’s more to what you think and say and what legacy it leaves embedded in people’s minds and hearts. They also taught me to focus on the risks that I was not focusing on and, since I had many focus areas, they made sure that I had a regular reality check versus dreaming big,’ said Byron.


His commitment to the programme and his clear vision for expansion have set the stage for Southern Fires to continue flourishing after his participation in the programme concludes. He is planning to open franchise stores in various areas, bringing his expertise and high-quality service to a broader market.


‘The Entrepreneurship Trainee Programme is another example where the City has been able to maximise the impact of EPWP funding and resources to make a real difference in the lives of beneficiaries. In this case, rather than creating temporary menial jobs that will disappear when the funding dries up, the team has found a way to leverage this funding into real economic growth that could continue generating jobs and prosperity even years after it has been spent. This is truly a trailblazing initiative by the City’s EPWP administration,’ said Mayoral Committee Member for Urban Waste Management, Alderman Grant Twigg.

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