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Coega grows, empowers number of Bay's women-owned SMMEs

Sep 6, 2019
Coega grows, empowers number of Bay's women-owned SMMEs

Port Elizabeth - The Coega Development Corporation (CDC) announced on Friday that it is continuing to drive a progressive agenda of empowerment and economic inclusivity for women-owned Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) in the Eastern Cape and Nelson Mandela Bay.

The CDC said that in the 2018/19 financial year, the total value of all contracts awarded to women-owned SMMEs was R7.6 million.

In relation to training and development, the CDC said that in the past financial year approximately 296 women-owned enterprises received training or participated in skills development programmes and initiatives geared to strengthen women-owned enterprises.

“Our training is geared at equipping SMMEs with construction management skills to run profitable companies. This forms part of our targeted interventions for SMME development and transformation to realise growth amongst targeted enterprises,” said Dr Ayanda Vilakazi, Coega’s Head of Marketing and Communications.

Accordingly, the CDC’s Construction Contracting Skills Programme is focused on five (5) unit standards including Tender for Construction, Apply Health & Safety to work area, Apply Basic Business Concepts, Apply Business Finance, & Implement Construction Site Management.

“Transforming the industry to incorporate more diverse players, including women-owned enterprises, forms part of the Coega Development Corporation’s strategic mandate,” said Dr. Ayanda Vilakazi.

“Maximising SMME content in all our projects, as well as driving enterprise development through local content is key in our approach,” he added.

Beez Business Investments is a woman-owned SMME based in Motherwell township in Port Elizabeth, currently subcontracted on a twelve-month fencing & pipe-laying project at the Coega Special Development Zone (SEZ).

The 12-year old company with a Grade 1 Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) grading specialises in fencing and civil works.

“We appreciate the opportunities presented by Coega and look forward to more. They must continue to generate opportunities for women in order for us to grow and stand our ground in this industry,’’ said Lumka Mbene, owner of Beez Business Investments.

Mbene pointed to the long road ahead for women in the infrastructure development industry; “Women are generally more organised in terms of budget and time management, hence we sometimes face resistance from our male counterparts. We deliver on time, we deliver quality work,’’ she added.

She highlighted how emerging contractors often struggle with seed capital.

“A more practical approach would be for SMMEs to be subcontracted for labour recruitment to allow them to gradually build their financial muscle to later take on bigger projects that require capital for procurement of material and transport,” she advised.

Mbene loves what she does, in spite of the challenges; “It is a journey worth travelling. I want to encourage other women to participate in this industry. I am 64 years old and still going strong,” she remarked.

Pickering Trading Enterprise, a CIDB 2CEPE 2GBPE Building & Civil Works SMME based in Algoa Park in Port Elizabeth, partook in an SMME training programme provided by Coega.

Ncumisa Xali, owner of Pickering Trading said; “The training has helped me to tender correctly and to adhere to safety measures on site to avoid costly mistakes.”

She further expressed; “Coega must prioritise women in all their projects. Women are providers and take care of families. They must also monitor the main contractors to safeguard against exploitation of women subcontractors.”

Coega’s 5-year strategic plan (2015-2020) sets out to achieve a 40% procurement spend on SMMEs by the end of the current financial year, 36% has already been achieved against the target of 40%.

“We monitor procurement expenditure on SMMEs with scrutiny. We plan on establishing a programme to support the development of SMMEs so that they can grow their businesses. Lack of funding threatens our vision of developing SMMEs, however, we are committed to exploring collaboration with other organisations to assist in this regard,” said Dr Vilakazi.

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