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Eastern Cape SMEs get a leg up with new Exporter Development Programme

A new Exporter Development Programme has been launched by the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber in partnership with the Eastern Cape Development Corporation, as part of an enterprise development strategy to empower business owners and companies in the region.
The Business Chamber has welcomed several companies that are on the cusp of exporting but in need of further assistance to enter and explore new markets.

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 and transport and export documentation. These prohibit companies to expand and grow their products and services in foreign markets.

“The Exporter Development Programme is designed to assist companies to reduce and eliminate all these challenges and barriers,” said Nomkhita Mona, Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber.

“We are pleased to announce that we have now concluded a thorough screening and selection process to identify firms that will enter the export market programme,” she said.

Nelson Mandela Bay a major exporter

The Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan is a major exporter of manufacturing products from the province.

In 2016, the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan accounted for 77.5% (or about R41.6 billion) of provincial manufacturing exports followed by Sarah Baartman District at 3.1% (or about R1.6 billion) and the Buffalo City Metropolitan at 2.7% (or about R1.4 billion).

The Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan is 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%).

“It is against these statistics that the ECDC has decided to partner with the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber on delivering the pilot phase of the Exporter Development Programme,” said Phakamisa George, senior for export promotion, ECDC.

Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber’s operations manager Prince Matonsi (left) and ECDC’s senior manager for export promotion, Phakamisa George (far right), pictured with two companies enrolled on the Exporter Development Programme: Buzwebethu Textile Prints CEO Nobuzwe Mabona and SOGA Organic admin and logistics manager Diana Hannah.

Improving export readiness

The companies that will form part of the programme will come from different regions in the province, however due to the strength of the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro on exports the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber will assist with programme implementation.

The Programme entails a combination of interventions aimed at improving the export readiness of the firms and this includes modular training by an accredited service provider as well as mentorship with firms in the Bay that are currently exporting.

The companies will participate in the programme for a period of a year and thereafter an evaluation will be made on the impact of the programme.

Some of the companies that have been enrolled include:

• Buzwebethu Textile Prints – a manufacturing company of creatively-designed and company textiles
• 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 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