Local businesses and authorities received a helping hand from some bright young minds last week.
Four students from University of KZN and Massachusetts Institute of Technology carried out research into the state of small businesses in the area and their relationship with bigger corporations who use their services.
The Ilembe Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Tourism hosted the study group from May 28 to June 4.
The group looked at crucial elements hampering SMMEs in the district and consulted local corporations including Whirlpool, Sappi, Geldhow sugar mill and King Shaka International Airport.
They looked at issues that affect these corporate’s ability to source work locally.
“Quality and availability of relevant services, sustainability of partnerships, certifications and trust were some of the major factors,” said MIT student Kailash Gupta.
Despite these problems, the students identified huge opportunities in the district.
“We should aim to target skills training to specific demand in the labour market,” said Gupta.
Whirlpool plant director Trevor Graham believes local businesses need to support each other.
“I want to draw workers from Mandeni and Isithebe and develop their skills. However the local FET college says students are struggling to get practical training. We as local businesses need to take them in,” said Graham.
“At the moment, we do not give people opportunities to gain practical experience. It is a big responsibility, or else we will never grow our local economy.”
MIT student Laurel Donaldson believes their research showed there is a gap in technical skills in iLembe.
“The courses are available at the local colleges, but there might be a problem at the college itself,” she said.
Ilembe Chamber CEO Cobus Oelofse was impressed by the presentation.
“We need to guide and guard against a dependency on the sugar and paper industries. We must create a balance. We need to move from being king makers to rain makers and create a thriving business community,” he said.
The chamber will look to use the recommendations this year and Oelofse said they were particularly interested in creating an electronic supplier directory that will feature local suppliers and artisans.
Courtesy of the North Coast Courier
The Business Support Centre is an exciting new public-private initiative by the Ilembe Chamber that provides a free all-in-one service to local business community including elements such as a help desk, resource centre, seminars, skills training and workshops, networking and mentorship. Refusing to be tied down by its location, the centre not only provides its services to businesses in Kwadukuza but actively engages in outreach in the outlying Ndwendwe, Mandeni, Maphumulo and Kwadukuza local municipalities. To top it all off, the services of the Business Support Centre are not limited to chamber members. All services given at the support centre are free, confidential and available to anyone interested in starting a business for the first time or improving an already existing business.
While the Ilembe private sector can scarcely believe its fortune, they are not the only ones who have been singing praises at the initiative. Provincial government recognises the importance of small business in boosting the economy and encourages all current and aspiring business owners to make use of this excellent resource. The MEC of Economic Development and Tourism, Michael Mabuyakhulu reiterated support for the initiative, speaking at the centre’s launch, and expressed his confidence that the Business Support Centre has positioned the ICCIT to become one of the significant chambers in the country.
The Business Support Centre will boost small businesses in the region helping them grow and develop and thus be in a better position to create the much needed jobs in South Africa. This initiative has the opportunity to decrease unemployment and to be at the forefront of positive change in South Africa.
Services of the Business Support Centre
The Help Desk addresses, refers, and provides guidance on issues such as how to set up a business and register it, tax returns, the development and preparation of a business plan, accessing business finance and more. The support centre assists businesses as far as possible and makes referrals where possible.
The Help Desk has also formed a number of partnerships to expand its scope of services:
- Business in a Box – A new technological package is now available at the centre in partnership with ResiNet.
Click here for more information about Business in a Box
- BEE certification in partnership with Aqrate
- UIF, Workman’s Compensation and PAYE registration in partnership with The Registration Company, owned by our 2012 Entrepreneur Competition overall winner, Cindy Gien.
Click here for more information about the support centre’s registration services
Keeping up to date with a rapidly changing business environment is vital for all business owners; and most business owners rely on credible information to make decisions. The Centre researches and disseminate relevant data through the website, email and other tools. The extensive library of information includes Business reports, statistics, trends and analyses; Economic Reports; Market research reports; changes in legislation; Incentives and Funding opportunities; and an SMME support database.
Click here to access the Chamber’s resource list.
Seminars, Workshops, and Information Sharing Sessions
Information compiled by the resource centre is made available to the local business community through low-cost workshops, information sharing sessions and networking.
These seminars and workshops are not limited to the Chamber offices; the Business Support Centre engages in outreach, taking these workshops to the outlying local municipalities. Through collaboration with the LED practitioners and SMME desks of these outlying areas, the support centre identifies seminars and workshops that are most relevant and beneficial to small businesses in Ndwendwe, Maphumulo, Mandeni, and Kwadukuza, and takes them there monthly. Training and skills development will also be facilitated.
The booming success of the Ilembe Chamber’s Entrepreneur Competition highlighted the demand for small business assistance centred on basic business advice, and that more businesses could flourish and expand with such assistance. The ICCIT recognized the extensive cache of experience and skills already available in the in the Ballito area, and has recruited the voluntary services of these mentors. The Business Support Centre links these mentors with local business people to provide them with much needed mentorship.
The current mentorship base is already very expansive, with experts in these and other fields:
Marketing; Electronics; Quantity Surveying; Human Resources Management; Finance; Interpersonal skills; Tender advice; Communication; Consumer Management; Project management; Manufacturing; Business Administration; Construction; Sustainability; Mechanical engineering; Supply chain management; Business coaching; Production Systems; People Relationships; Dealing with Unions
Click here if you are interested in becoming in mentor.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to receive mentorship.