'Seek out more work' SME providers in South Africa urged

9 June 2011

9 June 2011 | Angeline Albert 

A South African official is urging small businesses to try harder to tender for work particularly in the private sector. 

Durban’s deputy mayor, Logie Naidoo, gave the advice at the 2011 Construction Indaba, a two-day meeting hosted by the eThekwini municipality's Business Support Tourism and Markets Unit, which helps small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) develop in the region.    

Naidoo told the event’s attendees: “We want to get people in a position to tender for work from the private or public sector. We want to get them to become sub-contractors on bigger projects to build capacity and gain experience so that someday they can tender for the big contracts.”

He said South Africa had two economies, a first economy consisting of established companies with an international presence and a second comprised of smaller businesses in the process of making a name for themselves.

“Information on tenders is not always available to everyone, so make sure you are on the eThekwini and provincial databases,” he urged. “There are lots of big projects coming up in KwaZulu-Natal in the next few years, make sure you know about these. While bigger contracts are still being given to more established companies, smaller businesses must put themselves in a position to be sub-contracted.”

Since 2009, the local government unit has trained more than 600 companies in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province in the areas of Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) compliance, project management, marketing and communication. Phillip Sithole, head of the unit, said the construction industry has experienced a large rise in the number of people registering construction companies however most of these firms have not been tendering for such opportunities. Those that tendered have not been able to access procurement opportunities for various reasons, including a lack of technical skills.

Some of the topics covered at the event were procedures for businesses to become BEE complaint and access tender opportunities. The unit plans to continue helping small businesses get training, access finance and negotiate with bigger companies.

Durban is also encouraging big corporations to help small businesses boost their profile. Construction giant Group Five is one of the companies that has signed up to a city of Durban SME mentoring scheme. Currently, five black women-owned companies are working with Group Five.

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