THE owners of 31 budding small and medium enterprises graduated recently from the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber-driven Enterprise Development Programme.
Now in its seventh phase, the programme is funded by the Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC) and is geared towards developing sustainable SMEs through an enabling creative enterprise development programme and to facilitate the effective combination of skills development, coaching and mentoring using lessons learnt from previous phases.
Since its inception in 2014, the programme has benefitted 186 businesses who have been empowered with skills to run financially sustainable enterprises to unlock socio-economic development through structured multi-level training, mentoring and linkage support.
The programme runs over nine months and is facilitated by the Nelson Mandela University Business School and local grassroots business development non-profit organisation, eWatchdog.
One of the graduates Yolanda Bukani, the Managing Director of Black Excellence, said the programme empowered her as an entrepreneur with many critical skills to successfully run her business.
“Entrepreneurship is a lonely journey and without the necessary support, it’s easy to give up. But through this programme, I had the privilege of networking with other entrepreneurs and shared each other’s journeys and in the process, created a solid networking platform.
“The mentorship was the greatest source of inspiration because it has helped us to traverse the challenges of running a business and how to overcome them. From here onwards, I foresee exponential growth in my business and hopefully, I will be able to create more employment for the Bay’s youth because currently, opportunities are quite few,” Bukani said.
Chamber Operations Manager Prince Matonsi said the graduation reaffirmed the importance of the strategic partnership between the chamber and the ECDC, adding that it benefitted hardworking businessmen and women who want to positively contribute towards enhancing the province’s economy.
“With our province facing a huge challenge of unemployment, entrepreneurship is an important vehicle through which job creation can be achieved. While COVID-19 has brought many challenges, it has also brought opportunities, particularly for the youth to think out of the box and tap into new, exciting ways of engaging with potential customers,” he said.