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Chamber upscales global export accelerator programme to upskill local SMMES

Home Business Management SMME Chamber upscales global export accelerator programme to upskill local SMMES

THE Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber (NMBBC) is piloting, within the Metro, an export accelerator programme “to empower Small Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) with the necessary skills and knowledge to establish their own export market base”, says Denise van Huyssteen, the CEO of the Chamber.

This follows a highly successful and innovative Export Incubator established in 2018 as a partnership of the Employment and Skills for Development in Africa (E4D) Programme of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and the Johannesburg Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI). When the programme was completed, 75 SMMEs had participated and were provided with a suite of export orientated development support ranging from training, mentoring, product development and international market research, including international market access and business linkages.

Through the JCCI’s initiative, 120 new job opportunities were created while 10 SMMEs experienced more than 200% growth in annual turnover and 20 SMMEs reported annual turnover growth of more than 100%.

In an effort to upscale this successful model, E4D has reached out to the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber and three other chambers: the Cape Chamber of Commerce & Industry, the Pietermaritzburg & Midlands Chamber of Business as well as the JCCI. The four chambers together with the South African Supplier Diversity Council have formed the Global Export Accelerator Partnership (GEAP) funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

GEAP is aimed at stimulating job creation and enhanced business capacity of SMMEs to heighten their global competitiveness and ability to grow their markets internationally. Through a 12-month programme commencing July 2022, NMBBC aims to achieve the following indicators by working with a minimum of 40 enterprises in Nelson Mandela Bay and across the Eastern Cape Province:

  • 120 additional jobs to be created, of which 35% to be women
  • 200 people to improve their employment situation
  • 40 enterprises to enhance their business capacity

This comes at a time when the country is facing considerable economic challenges, including stunted economic growth, high unemployment and waning interest in the country’s prospects from trade and investment partners. As such, the country’s export performance remains weak.

In South Africa, SMMEs absorb about 60% of the employed population but contribute less than 4% to export earnings, leaving a large margin for growth. With a relatively small domestic market that is highly concentrated and competitive, SMMEs have to gain international experience and look for business beyond South African borders to succeed.

“We have elevated the importance of growing local SMMEs within the Chamber and to this end launched a SMME and Entrepreneurship Desk in April of this year. The Desk, which is anchored by sponsorship from Standard Bank and Labournet, already is supporting over 100 registered businesses”, says Van Huyssteen.

“As the Chamber, we regard GEAP as a key initiative because the focus is on stimulating job creation and promoting exports as a way to help SMMEs to grow. Therefore, there is a need to boost export activity as a stimulant to economic activity and job creation, which remains a national policy priority. To this extent, SMMEs are expected to function as a driving force in South Africa’s social and economic stability.”

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