More than 800 attendees and 100 small business exhibitors attended the inaugural Smart Procurement World Western Cape held in Cape Town last month, with the aim of furthering efficiency in the procurement sector.
The event had well-known media personalities Kieno Kammies and Jeremy Maggs as panel moderators.
The conference offered delegates an opportunity to benchmark themselves against other companies and to evaluate their strategies to understand the industry’s current position as whole and what the next year will bring.
Both the public and private sectors shared information around procurement policies and approaches.
According to Alan Winde, Western Cape Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, the small business sector is in “dire need to further work with credible procurement professionals in acquiring supplies and other services” in order for them to sell on to government and corporate organisations.
“Many small businesses face a unique challenge of meeting the requirements needed to do business deals with major stakeholders. This conference is important, because it introduces new ways for the procurement industry and business to work together, using innovative solutions to existing problems,” he says.
Winde says existing problems “are more than likely to lead to more failure, a slump in the local economy and, subsequently, job loss”.
The department plans to invest R18 billion to buy from and develop local suppliers, at regional and provincial levels.
“This shows our readiness as government to work long term with our country’s business. We want procurement officials, business and suppliers to work harder to minimise mistakes and contribute more to the local economy,” says Winde. According to Annelien Herringer, procurement manager at Shell South Africa, the lack of skills in bookkeeping, maintaining long-term supplier relationships, and investing in effective channels to keep business and supplier relationships intact contributed to the failure of many small businesses.
“Business skills create credibility. Credibility enables an environment in which a joint procurement strategy can be formulated,” says Herringer.
During her presentation, Herringer stressed that it was important to invest in suppliers to ensure that they had the necessary skills to deliver.
Small Business Connect spoke to some business owners at the event. They say they sometimes struggle with basic procurement processes such as sourcing supplies, drafting contracts, and managing long-term contracts.
Ronald Hein, the owner of PE&E Business Solution, says: “We have been in business for ten years. We have had trouble accessing new markets, and today serves as springboard to prospective buying and selling.”