Small business in Ironman deal

R500, 000 to develop skills needed for iconic event

Ironman 70.3 World Championship
Ironman 70.3 World Championship
Image: File picture

A deal has been struck between Ironman organisers and small business owners to bring them into the fold - following a meeting where SMME owners threatened to disrupt preparations ahead of the international event.

At a meeting on Tuesday, a delegation of about 40 small, medium and micro enterprise (SMME) owners from the Summerstrand Business Forum told municipal officials and Ironman 70.3 World Championship executives that they wanted a 30% share in work for the September 1 and 2 event.

At the meeting the business owners were told that R500,000 had been set aside to develop small, local businesses.

This week, Ironman CEO Keith Bowler said the money had always been available and had not been decided on at Tuesday’s meeting to appease SMME owners.

Khusela Mqoboli, chair of the Summerstrand Business Forum, said they had been engaging with Ironman organisers since April and had been told they would receive work in September.

“This is the first time in 12 years that SMMEs are on board. Plans are afoot for us to be part of the future Ironman Championship South Africa,” he said.

Prior to the announcement, the disgruntled business owners threatened to shut down sites where work for the event was being carried out.

They bemoaned the fact that they have been on the fringes over the past 12 years, saying work was only allocated to white-owned companies.

At the meeting, Nelson Mandela Bay head of sport, recreation, arts and culture, Noxolo Nqwazi, told the owners that their demand for 30% of the work was not possible, as planning had already been completed.

However, she promised to make the process of procurement transparent in future.

Sparks flew when human settlements political head Nqaba Bhanga threatened to set metro police officials on the business owners if they disrupted planning or the event.

Mqoboli demanded an apology.

Bhanga said: “If my message came out incorrectly, I apologise. We want to have a successful event.”

In terms of the developmental fund, owners of SMMEs will be trained and mentored by established companies currently providing services towards Ironman events.

The five wards to benefit include Summerstrand, Humewood, Walmer, Lorraine and Seaview – all of which have routes that would be used by athletes during the Ironman 70.3 World Championship.

Each ward will be allocated R100,000.

Municipal spokesman Kupido Baron said the municipality was also committed to ensuring the maximum benefits for residents of the metro.

He said: “We are fully committed to ensure that local businesses benefit from events hosted in Nelson Mandela Bay.

“The eyes of the triathlon world will be on us and [the event will] further cement Nelson Mandela Bay as a preferred water sports destination.