Businesses contracted as suppliers to conservation authority South African National Parks (SanParks) are not only seeing an increase in their bottom line, but are also emerging as champions in combating unemployment in their communities.
Mfundiso Ngetu, owner of Mfurs Alien Clearing, has been contracted by the Table Mountain National Park (TMNP) since August 2012 to clear alien vegetation and cut trees.
He says since he secured the TMNP contract his annual turnover has increased by 50%. This helped him to buy a brand new bakkie for his business within three months of being awarded the contract. He was also able to put money away, something which he could not do previously.
Ngetu says his TMNP contract has also allowed him to help his community in the township of Masiphumelele.
“I am able to provide fulltime work to 12 people which in effect economically uplifts the lives of about 50 of their family members.”
Vernon Mitchell, who through his company, Indigicare, provides alien vegetation clearing and tree felling services to all the national parks in the Western Cape, says his turnover has increased significantly since his contract began in 2004.
Since contracting to SanParks, his staff – who he sources from his community in Hout Bay – has increased in number from 10 to 30 people.
Mitchell says he and his staff have also benefited from a number of free training courses offered by SanParks, such as first-aid training, health and safety awareness, chainsaw cutting and life skills training.
He says businesses that want to approach SanParks for work under its Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) stand a better chance of securing work if they have their own vehicles and valid driving licences.
Launched in 2004, the EPWP is a government initiative that aims to provide employment and enterprise development training to infrastructure, non-state, environment and culture and social sectors.
Sibongile Ntozini, owner of Mabuti & Son Construction, says his annual turnover has increased by 60% since he was contracted by TMNP to maintain gravel roads, trim footpaths, build gabions to halt erosion and erect boardwalks in wet areas.
Ntozoni says he started as a general worker on an EPWP project in 2004 and was then selected to attend a contractor’s course.
After completing the course he was called in for interviews which led to him qualifying for a contract.
He says construction companies that want to become a service provider to SanParks must ensure that they have skilled workers who can deliver quality work.
“That is the reason why I secured the contract with SanParks.”
Nhlanhla Nkuna, owner of Mbawazi Trading Enterprise, says since she secured a contract last year to supply the Kruger National Park with towels, her turnover has increased by six percent.
She says she applied for the tender after it was advertised in the City Press newspaper
She advises those who want to do business with the Kruger National Park to always keep their documents such as tax clearance certificates updated, to attend tender briefing sessions and to adhere to the requirements when tendering for a job.
Rob Peters, owner of sole proprietor B3 Coaching, is an example of a supplier who offers services outside of SanParks’ EPWP. He has been providing psychological coaching to individuals, teams and groups within SanParks since August last year.
Peters explains how he secured the contract: “I was placed at SanParks for fieldwork after completing my studies. I was interviewed and then given permission to request clients. “SanParks was very receptive and forward thinking in how I might be of use. Thus, when the fieldwork ended I offered my services as a private practice business. Having just finished my studies, getting this business was a dream come true.”
He says being awarded this contract with SanParks has provided him with credibility and valuable experience in his line of work.
“SanParks is my second organisational client and therefore a main contributor to my turnover,” says Peters.
His advice for business owners wanting to supply services to SanParks: “Know your business and how it can fit into and benefit SanParks. Being prepared is always useful.”