Exporter development programme energises East Cape entrepreneurs

Eastern Cape Development Corporation senior manager for trade promotion Phakamisa George, COTi Chocolate Manufacturers MD Chris Parkin, Lugaju Innovations owner Dr Bonga Zuma and Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber acting CEO Prince Matonsi at the exporter development programme graduation ceremony at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Gqeberha
WELCOME FILLIP: Eastern Cape Development Corporation senior manager for trade promotion Phakamisa George, COTi Chocolate Manufacturers MD Chris Parkin, Lugaju Innovations owner Dr Bonga Zuma and Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber acting CEO Prince Matonsi at the exporter development programme graduation ceremony at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Gqeberha
Image: MICHAEL SHEEHAN

A group of entrepreneurs representing 19 SMMEs graduated from the Eastern Cape exporter development programme in Gqeberha on Friday.

The Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC), in partnership with the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber, hosted a graduation ceremony at the Radisson Blu Hotel for the entrepreneurs who successfully completed the programme. 

The candidates underwent an intense selection process in August 2019 after responding to a call for participation in the exporter development programme.

The 12-month training programme focuses on assisting Eastern Cape companies to acquire the relevant certification for their product and service offerings and to ensure their export-readiness.

ECDC senior manager for trade promotion Phakamisa George said the exporter development programme represented a breakthrough in the development of Eastern Cape exporters.

“The programme incorporates two components that were not brought together in the past, which are in the form of technical training and mentorship.

“This year’s programme has proven to be successful due to the commitment from the partners involved in the programme as well as the commitment of all participants, despite the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.” 

Water scientist Dr Bonga Zuma, who owns Lugaju Innovations, based in East London, said though the company had started exporting to West Africa, he still learnt new skills from the programme.

“I got to understand there is a systematic entry into exporting into a different country, how will you distribute your product, who are your allies there and for me the future is brighter,” Zuma said.

Another graduate, COTi Chocolate Manufacturers MD Chris Parkin, said he had learnt a lot from the programme.

His company successfully exported its zero added sugar peanut butter bar to the US.

“Interacting with other companies has been great, seeing what they are doing.

“We got the logistics provider in America, which is a global company, through these sessions.”

Business chamber operations manager Prince Matonsi said: “The structure of the programme encompasses tools that will deliver appropriately skilled exporters, further contribute to the number of existing exporters and increase the real value of exports consistently over time.

“In turn, [this contributes] to the government’s socioeconomic objectives of economic growth, employment creation, equity improvement and poverty alleviation as well as increase the Eastern Cape enterprises’ proportion of exporting.”

The three-year partnership between the ECDC and the business chamber is now in its second year, with 29 SMMEs mentored and introduced to export markets globally.

The applications window for the 2021/22 intake is open and will close on Friday.

To apply, visit the ECDC and Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber websites.

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