The Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber has kicked off its annual Pro Bono programme with 50 local Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) who will receive free tutelage support from established member companies.
Over 10 companies have volunteered their time by sponsoring to provide free services in the fields of legal, labor, mentorship, marketing, finance and accounting services, including access to markets. The beneficiaries are matched with the appropriate service providers for tailor-made mentorship to ensure their sustainability.
The Business Chamber initiated the programme through its SME Task Team with a sole purpose of creating a formal structure for businesses to connect – through identifying members willing to offer pro bono services or advice to other member companies.
The SME task team is one of the “Action Arms” of the Business Chamber and is committed to creating an environment where SMEs can reach exponential growth, whilst addressing inhibiting factors which impact upon such businesses.
Prior to the implementation of this programme, the Business Chamber conducted a survey to ascertain what the needs of the targeted SMEs. This exercise reflected high levels of need in areas such as marketing and access to markets, mentorship and leadership development as well as accounting and financial systems.
According to official statistics, SME’s contribute nearly 98.5% of the number of formal firms in the economy, though they only account for 28% of jobs in South Africa. Based on international trends, the SMME’s contribution should be at a level of 60 to 70%.
This is a percentage that, through an efficient approach could increase to a higher rate. The collaboration between the established companies and SMEs has the potential to contribute to the economic development of the city.
The service providers that are taking part in the programme include Accounting and Computer Services, Algoa FM, eNtsa, Find Your Path, Green Room, Hire Power, Hoola Agency, Mobilities Communications Solutions, Oracle Media and Stratogo.
NMBBC Operations Manager Prince Matonsi said the Business Chamber was indeed open to more member companies that were willing to be part of this programme as service providers.
“We are quite impressed by the interest shown by both the member companies and the intended recipients of these services. In the long run, the sustainability of small businesses could help recalibrate the city’s economy especially in the area of job creation,” Matonsi said.