Incubator boost for auto sector SMMEs

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About R10m will be pumped into developing small businesses in Nelson Mandela Bay through an automotive incubator project.
The economic development department has partnered with the Business Place to deliver the incubator, which will focus on small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) in Uitenhage.
The plan is to develop existing enterprises operating in the automotive service and maintenance sector.
About R5m has been preapproved by the Small Enterprise Development Agency, with the city expected to match this with a further R5m.
Economic development boss Anele Qaba said the incubator would mostly formalise small businesses that were already operating in townships.
“As a primary objective, the incubator seeks to bring about measurable development in enterprises that participate in the programme.
“This extends beyond merely measuring turnover and will include aspects such as business process, aggregate skills level within the enterprises as well as compliance with industry-related operational guidelines and requirements.”
Qaba said the idea was to create a virtual incubator that would be able to support small businesses in the metro as a whole.
“The incubator will be structured in such a way to ensure that the industry-relevant incubation, development and support interventions reach the incubatees regardless of infrastructure, location or physical limitations.
“We already have a couple of SMMEs in the automotive industry that are doing well in their respective areas, whether it is fixing cars, mechanics, panel beating or fixing engines,” Qaba said.
He said the first phase would look at what the small businesses needed urgently.
“Others might not have an accredited business, and some might be operating in an area where they shouldn’t be operating that type of business.
“The second issue will be skilling – we want to look at how we skill them to further advance their work in that particular space so that people can move from informal to formal.”
He said the incubator would further look at the individual needs of each business.
“We understand each individual will have different plans.
“We will identify the current situation and look at a development plan for each SMME and take it from there,” he said.
A business plan for the incubator will be presented at the next economic development portfolio committee meeting.
The move has been welcomed by the National African Federated Chamber of Commerce (Nafcoc) in the metro.
Bay Nafcoc secretary Mandla Msizi said the establishment of an incubator could possibly be a game-changer for SMMEs operating in the sector.
“This will be first of its kind and it is something that government has failed to fasttrack,” Msizi said.
“Having your own workshop requires skill and experience.
“These things are absolutely critical because you won’t be able to supply anything if you don’t have the know-how.”
Msizi said one of the challenges facing small businesses in the automotive sector was getting the necessary approvals and certification.
“This is not a market where you walk in and just work, especially if you supply a core component for a vehicle.
“This could play a critical role in integrating SMMEs that are playing in that space.
“If they are creating a facility of this nature, it will definitely help to ensure that SMMEs stand up on their own.”
Msizi said that many SMMEs struggled to get the necessary certification.
“An ISSO 9001 certification can take up to a year and can cost between R100,000 and R300,000.”

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