New support centre for fed-up owners in PE

Peter Mhleli, interim president of the newly-formed Black Business Forum.

Business owners from Port Elizabeth have been promised more streamlined support with by the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality by the launch this month of its Enterprise Development Centre (EDC).

The centre will offer local business owners training services and help link them with financial institutions.

Announcing the formation of the new centre, Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality’s economic development executive director Anele Qaba, acknowledged the plight of many businesses owners in the region who have complained about the present support structures.

It is also hoped that the new service centre will help to relieve the building tensions of a faction of black business owners in the area. Last month Small Business Connect reported on allegations made by black business owners in the area who accused the local municipality of not assisting in the expansion of black businesses.

“We have to address this matter urgently and this will be achieved through setting up the EDC. This centre will be a one-stop shop for all small business owners where they will be able to access all the services they require,” he said.

He added that at present business owners are frustrated with having to be referred to various organisations when seeking more information about business support.

He said this, however, will be remedied through a service delivery network, with the EDC co-ordinating all small business support programmes available in the region.

Qaba said the plan is to have financial institutions from both the private and public sectors interacting with the business owners to provide the necessary financial and management support.

The launch of the EDC was a welcome development to business owners in Nelson Mandela Bay who have been fighting for recognition.

A number of black business owners who were previously members of the local chapter of the National African Federated Chamber of Commerce (Nafcoc) have now formed a business chamber called the Black Business Forum (BBF).

“Nafcoc is too weak, it’s a toothless dog. We have decided to break away from Nafcoc to form our own business chamber which will represent the interest of black small businesses,” says BBF interim president Peter Mhleli.

He says Nafcoc is not “radical” enough and adds that it is why businesses have been disrupting construction projects in Nelson Mandela Bay demanding to be awarded contracts.

“We want to play a role in the economic mainstream of this region,” says Mhleli.

Nafcoc’s Litemba Singaphi wished the new organisation well, while pointing out that anyone was free to exercise their democratic right to form their own association. But he denied that Nafcoc was a weak organisation.

“We don’t agree with them when they say Nafcoc is weak. At Nafcoc we have a way of dealing with issues. We don’t fight, but negotiate,” he said.

The centre will offer the following services:

  •  Franchising and start-up business support,
  • Help with access to finance,
  • Manufacturing advice,
  •  Help with government incentives and programmes,
  •  Assistance with statutory registrations, business plan writing, completion of tender documents,
  •  Advice on BEE strategies and deal structuring, business profiling,
  • turnaround strategies,
  •  Export and import logistics help, and
  •  Product development advice.

Anele Qaba, Black Business Forum (BBF), Enterprise Development Centre (EDC), Litemba Singaphi, National African Federated Chamber of Commerce (Nafcoc), , Peter Mhleli

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