Ten (10) Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) drawn from the Eastern Cape Province recently completed and graduated on the Eastern Cape Exporters Development Programme (EDP) which is aimed at empowering local businesses with the necessary skills and knowledge to be able to penetrate the export market.
The programme is driven by the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber (NMBBC) in partnership with the Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC) and was identified as one of the key pillars of the Eastern Cape Export Strategy. It aims to address the key constraints that companies face before entering the export market.
The programme started when the ECDC entered into an agreement with the NMBBC to pilot the programme on an initial one-year term. The pilot sought to provide a future framework for the development of exporters in the Eastern Cape on a long term basis.
According to the recently released EC Export Strategy, many SMEs face key constraints and several barriers such as intensified international competition, unable to participate in potential buyer outreaches, costs relating to marketing, logistics, transport and export documentation. These barriers prohibit companies to expand and grow their products and services into the foreign markets.
Nelson Mandela Bay is a major exporter of manufacturing products from the province. In 2018, Nelson Mandela Bay accounted for close to 90% of the province’s manufactured exports.
Exports from the region contribute a significant amount to the local economy and constitute close to 42% of the NMB’s GDP. As such, Europe remains the foremost destination for Nelson Mandela Bay’s exports – accounting for 48% share of total exports in 2018.
Asia has increased its share in our export in recent years, and now receives 32% of our total exports (by value).
This makes NMBM the most competitive metropolitan in the Eastern Cape when it comes to manufacturing exports, with transport equipment -motor vehicle, parts and accessories – contributing 99.3% to the province followed by metal, metal products, machinery and equipment (97.4%); furniture and other manufacturing (95.3%), other non-metal mineral products (93.1%); petroleum products, chemicals, rubber and plastic (86.3%); textile, clothing and leather goods (78.3%); Radio, TV, instruments, watches and clocks (74.9%); wood, paper, publishing and printing (53.5%).
ECDC Senior Manager for Export Promotion, Phakamisa George, said they were pleased with the progress made thus far and as such, more funding would be invested into the programme to grow it even further.
“The significance of this programme is that it enables the candidates to practically apply newly learned skills in a business environment where they can position their products to prospective customers. We are confident that the participants have been fully empowered and are in a position to navigate the shocks the export market presents,” George said.
The companies that were enrolled in the programme were:
• Buzwebethu Textile Prints – a textile manufacturer of creatively-designed products;
• Flat Foot Engineering – a company involved in industrial air-conditioning, steam and boilers, generators and fire protection;
• RV Footwear – a footwear manufacturer creating a full range of ladies’, men’s and children’s slippers, sandals and school shoes;
• IKIM Solutions – a water treatment chemical manufacturing and trading business;
• SOGA Organic (Pty) Limited – the association was formed in 2005, and the SOGA juice factory was started in 2012 and is a certified organic citrus juice processing plant;
• Budget Office Furniture – a leading manufacturer of office and school furniture;
• Fred Footwear – a 100% black-owned company with a UK trained fashion designer involved in the fashion and footwear industry for 40 years;
• Nceduluntu Wesley Community Project – a community programme focussed on agricultural produce and mohair products;
• La Mohair – a company producing Mohair products;
• SA Canvas – a custom-made PVC and canvas manufacturer.
One of the graduates, Rolland Eboru of Fred Footwear said that prior to the programme, internal stakeholders were not fully aware of the positive and challenging factors relating to exporting.
“The increase in orientation has, in turn, led to more strategic thinking and deliberate planning on Fred Footwear’s export initiatives. There is also a realisation that a successful export plan requires dedicated resources,” Eboru said.
Another participant, Zimasa Matyunjwa from IKIM Solutions, which manufactures household cleaning and personal care products said: “The company has used the knowledge acquired through the programme in the procurement of machinery and equipment from India and China. The incoterms know-how has helped our company in evaluating prospective deals with clients from Swaziland, Mozambique and Kenya.”
Business Chamber Operations Manager, Prince Matonsi, congratulated all the graduates and emphasised the importance of SMEs in the area of job creation and their contribution to the local economy.
“We are happy with the progress made thus far and are confident that the new graduates will be able to plough their newly acquired skills and grow their businesses. The pilot programme provided great insights particularly through the unique model of mentorship that was provided through member companies that are already exporting” he said.
Additional to the Nelson Mandela Bay, the next phase of the programme, due to commence in the next few weeks, will be rolled out in Buffalo City. This is to maximising the SMEs time in their companies to reduce travel time for their training. The programme is a 10-month intensive interaction with an accredited exporting training company as well as mentorship by companies that are already in the export space. The unique development model gives the much needed combination of capacity building within the SMEs businesses.