30 October 2019

While South Africa’s construction industry is firmly in recession, there is cause for optimism with the government’s economic stimulus
plan reported to inject billions into infrastructure development. This should
offer increased opportunities for local small and medium sized enterprises
(SMEs) that will support big business in managing the anticipated uptick.

“It is vital that we make sure
our SMEs in the industry are primed, armed and ready to hit the ground running
and we are already making inroads in this space,” says Anthony Keal, group
skills facilitator at Master Builders Association Western Cape (MBAWC).

“In November 2018, we announced the launch of our Entrepreneurship for
Contractors Development Programme, which is hosted in partnership with the
University of the Western Cape’s Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. We
aim to equip established entrepreneurs operating in our sector with the skills
they need to successfully run their own businesses and, this month, we’re
celebrating the first of our course graduates.”

“Over the past six months, the
programme has empowered entrepreneurs by upskilling their understanding in
various key areas, including: running a small business, pricing and claims,
human resources, health and safety, contractual and legal requirements in the
workplace and running an efficient project. These were examined through
individual as well as group assignments and assessments.”

“These are skills usually learned over time, but which are vital to SME success
in the construction industry. What we’re effectively offering delegates is an
opportunity to leapfrog their business growth plans by quite a margin,” he

Keal points out that the feedback from entrepreneurs that attended the first
six month course is testament to the importance of programmes like this.

Faith Mabena, director of Nokhanya Services, says
that the MBA Development Programme advanced her understanding and capabilities
in the management of contracts and in health and safety. “The programme was
detailed and informative,” she says.

“I’m now better at project costing and management and have learned the importance of risk analysis when it comes to personal protection equipment and employees, their health and safety on site.”

Another entrepreneur, Carlo Moosa, said: “Through participating in the programme, I realised how little I actually understood when it came to running a business, most specifically regarding labour law.”

“All of the course elements were useful and in construction, education must be ongoing, but I could have used the skills I learned in labour law when managing internal disputes we have faced in the past,” he says. “I’d recommend that all small construction business owners participate in this programme – there are lessons here that would usually take us years to grasp.”

The second programme kicks off in February 2020 with continued focus on empowering the construction industry through the development of SMEs.

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