Transnet Pipelines and Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry launched the final phase of their flagship Enterprise and Supplier Development (ESD) Programme on Tuesday, 19 June 2018. This three-year programme was initiated to develop, support and transform small, medium and micro-sized enterprises (SMMEs) in the Durban area into reliable suppliers and sustainable businesses that can positively contribute to Transnet Pipelines’ value chain.

The programme was divided into three phases consisting of phase one which covered skills development and training; phase two which focused on sectors and market analysis; and, now, phase three which involves mentorship and industry exposure.

This final phase is the cornerstone of the programme and will have the participating SMMEs partnered with mentors, with a maximum of six mentees per mentor. Each mentor will assist their mentees in consolidating the knowledge acquired during the past two years and act as a sounding board for the SMMEs to forge ahead in creating sustainable businesses and accessing new markets.

Durban Chamber CEO, Dumile Cele, in attendance at the launch, said that well-managed ESD programmes are key to ensuring real and sustainable business and economic growth in eThekwini and the country as a whole.

“SMMEs are the backbone of our economy and deserve more recognition for their contribution and support in their efforts,” Cele said.

She went on to thank the participating mentees for their commitment to the programme and their willingness to learn as well as the mentors for contributing their time and experience to the ESD programme.

Dumile said that relationships are the real currency of commerce and creating a space where businesses can meet, interact and form meaningful mutually beneficial relationships is key to not only economic success but to bridging historic gaps in South Africa’s social and financial system.

The participating mentors are Kim MacIlwaine, Akhona Ngcobo, John Charter, Lindani Dhlomo, Thandazile Mokhohlouloane, AK Essack, Zee Cele, Justin Foxton, Rajes Govender and Karl Schmidt. The mentors are experienced and influential business people all of whom have served in various senior positions, locally and internationally. Their vast knowledge, experience and large networks will ensure that their mentees can extract maximum value from their business interaction and partnership.

Commenting on the launch of the programme, the lead mentor responsible for coordination of mentors, Kim MacIlwaine said, “We have a passionate and experienced group of Durban mentors, committed to making a contribution to this vital sector of the SA economy. Our first meeting with the owners and directors of the SMME’s on the programme was very positive and we will now work with them individually to create a 6-month plan to help grow their businesses sustainably and also help upskill them in specific areas. This is a far-sighted initiative by the Durban Chamber and Transnet Pipelines, who will strengthen and broaden their supplier base, and we hope it has a wider application in the future.”

Portia Dlamini, one of the participating SMMEs, Emakheni, affirmed that the ESD initiative is a great opportunity for her company and the other SMMEs to take advantage of the business knowledge and network of the mentors. With the mentors acting as their business guides, it will assist the SMMEs in determining their current business reality and inform them on how to plan and form strategies to ensure the continued profitability and sustainability of their businesses.

For more information on the ESD Programme or to find out more about the Durban Chamber’s other Enterprise Development Initiatives, contact Nanana Sabela at sabelae@durbanchamber.co.za or 031 335 1000.