Coega helps businesses upgrade status

Claire Kivedo of Overall Events, Wani Toyana of Otjiwarongo Projects and Ntombekhaya Gunuza of Shadow Bricks with Coega Development Corporation’s Andile Ntloko.

Claire Kivedo of Overall Events, Wani Toyana of Otjiwarongo Projects and Ntombekhaya Gunuza of Shadow Bricks with Coega Development Corporation’s Andile Ntloko.

The Coega Development Corporation (CDC) has already invested over R450 000 in a recently launched business support programme aimed at small businesses.

The programme, which is being co-ordinated by the CDC’s small business development unit and is called the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) Level One Certification, assists selected small businesses in the CDC database by helping them to get certification on a higher BEE level.

Helping small businesses improve their BBBEE scorecards enables them to compete favourably in tender bidding.

Recently, 100 small businesses in various sectors ranging from construction to events management were upgraded from Level Four to Level One.

About 80% of these companies came from the Nelson Mandela Bay region.

However, the programme caters for all small businesses from the Eastern Cape province as a whole.

Participants are randomly selected from the CDC small business database, and participation is free.

Participating small businesses are trained in financial management, governance, decision-making and various other aspects of business management.

CDC’s small business development unit head, Andile Ntloko, says: “When you bid for a state tender, you bid on price and empowerment. Empowerment indicates your BBBEE status.

“We have shown small black-owned businesses how they can realise their potential and move to Level One status to competitively bid for work both on price and empowerment.”

Ntloko says of the 100 participating companies, 65% were owned by black women.

The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality councillor responsible for economic development, Babalwa Lobishe, who officiated at the certification function, says the programme gives small businesses the competitive edge, which is required by various industries that small businesses are involved in.

“We can turn around our city to become a much better place. The economy is growing and Coega, in partnership with our municipality, is going the extra mile to ensure that we attract investment,” says Lobishe.

Participating business owner Ntombekhaya Gunuza, who owns Shadow Bricks, which has branches in Mthatha and East London, says her company had been “stuck at Level Three for ages”.

“This is great. I did not think my company would be upgraded to Level One. This will now open doors for my business. As small businesses, we are the backbone of South Africa’s economy and the future job creators,” says Gunuza, whose company employs 60 people.

She says the construction industry is tough – worse still when one is a woman, “but with this new status, I will take men in the industry head-on.”

Another participant, Claire Kivedo, who co-owns Overall Events, says the new Level One status would make her business even more sustainable.

“I did not realise that the work I am doing, along with giving back to my community, could help boost my company’s BEE level. It is nice to know that hard work pays and is rewarded,” says Kivedo.

Wani Toyana, the owner of Otjiwarongo Projects, a bulk vegetation and landscaping company, says:

“The upgrading of my company’s BEE status means better opportunities in future and more jobs.”

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