Nelson Mandela Bay SMMEs get advice from leading businesswomen

SEPTEMBER 2, 2015

Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) celebrated the last day of Women’s Month at a Women in business breakfast seminar themed ‘Women Empowerment: Advancing your Leadership and Business Skills’, hosted by the Coega Development Corporation (CDC).

The seminar formed part of CDC’s commitment to the empowerment of black women-owned businesses. It afforded guests an opportunity to learn from role players in the economy and gain advice, business tools and resources necessary to grow their businesses.

The event was held on Monday, 31 August at the Coega Vulindlela Accommodation and Conference Centre (VACC) in Port Elizabeth.

Guest speaker Dr Bridgette Gasa, managing director of The Elilox Group Pty Ltd, highlighted on leadership role played by women in business society and provided advice women can utilise to explore opportunities in various industries, from the public to private sector.

“We must strive to motivate each other and not pull one another down. We must consistently build each other up. We must commend organisations like the CDC on their developmental and empowerment programmes.”

Gasa also encouraged women to diversify their fields of interest. She said women are known to be entrepreneurs in the cleaning, catering, marketing and communications sectors, but that it is time they ventured to command the heights of other sectors of the economy.

“I ventured into a field of which I knew nothing: manufacturing of rail components. Today that is where our business derives most of its revenue.”

Gasa commended the CDC on the role it has played in developing SMMEs, saying “One would wish that, 21 years into our democracy, other state-owned enterprises would be doing precisely what the CDC is doing in developing SMMEs”.

Other speakers included CDC’s Ziyanda Kaleni, from the SMME unit, who advised SMMEs on how to gain access to various opportunities available in the CDC Industrial Development Zone (IDZ) and external programmes;  CDC’s Nolubabalo Pandle, presented an update on the revised Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) codes of good practice and warned SMMEs to not obtain invalid B-BBEE certificates, this will negatively affect them on achieving empowerment points when tendering for contracts; and Nopinkie Bentsile of the Department of Trade and Industry (dti), who informed guests on various dti business incentive schemes available for black-owned enterprises.

The seminar’s programme director Motse Mfuleni, chairman of the Mandela Bay Development Agency (MBDA), said women’s greatest advantages in business were “their ability to multitask and their resilience in overcoming difficulties, which gives them a head start in business”.

Image: BUSINESS SEMINAR: Coega Development Corporation’s (CDC) chief financial officer Bongeka Jojo (left) joined guest speaker Dr Bridgette Gasa, managing director of The Elilox Group, Motse Mfuleni, seminar programme director and chairman of the Mandela Bay Development Agency (MBDA), and Ellen Fischat, enterprise development manager at Seda NMB ICT Incubator (SNII), at the CDC’s Women in Business Breakfast Seminar on Monday, 31 August.

 

“Coega has structured unbelievable opportunities for women in business to grow and bring other young women up the ladder with them. All entities of government should be following the example of the Coega Development Corporation,” Mfuleni said.

 

Ellen Fischat, enterprise development manager at SEDA NMB ICT Incubator (SNII), told guests that there was nothing wrong with admitting you do not know everything in business. She encouraged them to seek guidance from a business mentor.

 

“The one thing I have learnt from being in business, is that I don’t know it all. Instead, I make it my business to surround myself with people who are in the know. I understand the power of information: it could mean the difference between you and another person’s success,” Fischat said.