The East London Industrial Development Zone (ELIDZ) together with the Amathole District Municipality (ADM) launched the MASAKHE SONKE Targeted Small, Medium and Micro Enterprise (SMME) programme aimed at facilitating growth of these businesses with a Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) grading designation of 2 up to 7 at the ELIDZ Conference Centre.
In the construction industry, SMME’s owned by Black Women, youth and people with disability constitute a greater percentage of the lowest contractor grades in terms of the CIDB grading and for this reason preference is being given to the empowerment of construction enterprises owned by this population group.
The primary objective of the programme is to provide an operational environment and growth opportunities for SMMEs with CIDB grading designations two (2) to seven (7) in the General Building and the Civil Engineering classes of construction works. The programme is aimed at developing the construction capacity and also facilitating growth for SMMEs in the construction industry.
Addressing the launch ELIDZ CEO Simphiwe Kondlo said the ELIDZ is an economic catalyst in the region and through this initiative its impact will be wider. “As the ELIDZ we are paying special attention to issues of economic transformation and growing SMMEs is key to the sustainability of this process. The construction industry in our country cannot remain the same and this is part of the reason why today we are laying a foundation for its transformation”, said Kondlo.
Kondlo added that strengthening industrial capabilities of the region will change certain aspects the economy.
The programme seeks to provide an operational environment and facilitate growth for its participants and further grant support to learner contractors in a form of training.
Since the programme is being implemented within the Amathole District Municipality’s area of jurisdiction, the participating contractors have been sourced from the seven local municipalities of the district. This will ensure that there is a geographic equity between the various local municipalities.
The ELIDZ has partnered with ADM on this initiative to address the employment challenge facing the region. “The upward shift in the number of jobs created in the region can only be recognised if we provide the necessary platform and support to SMMEs, particularly those operating in the construction sector. This, in fact is the main reason why we have embarked on this joint venture with the ADM”, he said.
The programme is also set to afford SMMEs an opportunity to participate in the mainstream economy.
A pool of 35 contractors who attended the launch are being developed to be able to move two levels up in the CIDB grading and to acquire construction qualifications at NQF Level 4 while within the programme. In addition, contractors will be developed to be able to compete in the open market by the time of exiting the programme.
With ADM being one of the most rural of municipalities twinned with a high rate of unemployment, Executive Mayor Nomasikizi Konza regards the partnership between the two institutions as nothing short of a deserved break.
“This project for us as the ADM represents a window of opportuinty and as such responds to the core challenge that our people are constantly subjected to, that is, the issue of socio-economic transformation. Furthermore, this partnership is one other way by which we can respond to these core challenges, as well as taking the necessary steps towards enabling our emerging contractors a chance to compete on a bigger platform. As this year has been declared as that of unity towards giving socio-economic freedom, we are not apologetic when it comes to confronting the triple colonial challenge of poverty, inequality and unemployment. It is from this view that we boldly embrace the ammunition that this project is affording us,” deemed Executive Mayor Konza.
She added that ADM continues to redress the skewed distribution of wealth and assist in achieving the goals of poverty alleviation and job creation within our region.
“This can be achieved by providing employment opportunities to historically disadvantaged individuals [HDI’s] and disadvantaged communities, enabling socio-economic transformation objectives to be linked to fair, transparent, equitable, competitive and cost effective procurement practices,” said Konza, adding that the SMME development initiative, named Masakhe Sonke , was such an opportunity.