A powerful skills development programme and competition sponsored by the City of Cape Town will empower small and medium enterprises (SMMEs), to ensure that they can weather the current Covid-19 storm and thrive beyond this crisis.

Small businesses are the lifeblood of the economy, employing around 60% of South Africa’s workforce and making a substantial contribution to the GDP. Many have been decimated by the Covid-19 crisis.

Now more than ever, we recognise the need to support and enable suppliers in this vital sector; to enable them to come out of this turbulent period stronger and more capable,” comments Smart Procurement project manager Keshni Reddy, who is heading the City of Cape Town’s 2021 Smart Supplier Programme.

“The City of Cape Town has been a sponsor of the Western Cape Smart Procurement initiative since 2014,” says Mayoral Committee Member for Economic Opportunities and Asset Management, Alderman James Vos. He notes that the initiative’s integrated business model is strategically aligned with the City’s transformation and economic development plans.

“It promotes access to market and training for SMMEs, while providing them with a platform to showcase their products and services. The programme promotes growth and stimulates job creation. As a City, we are focused on creating an enabling environment for supplier development. I am driven by the overarching objective to make my portfolio the ‘Growth Directorate’ of the City. This means that we focus our energy on attracting investment which creates jobs and leads to economic growth,” adds Vos.

“As Africa’s leading procurement information service, Smart Procurement has, for more than nine years, successfully enabled SMMEs to access vital business connections in the corporate and public sector,” Reddy explains. “This year, we are delighted to be partnering with the City of Cape Town on what is effectively a ‘boot camp’ for SMMEs.”

Outlining the format of the competition and skills development programme, Reddy says that70 qualifying applicants will go through the intensive Smart Supplier Programme, which includes on-the-job training.

“The top 30 graduates from the training programme will have the opportunity to use the Smart Procurement platform to showcase their services and products. Their businesses will also be boosted with personal introductions to procurement buyers. The initiative aims to expose SMMEs to corporate supply chains and deliver market connections, not only in the Western Cape but nationally, too. This will enable the businesses to grow and create more jobs,” she states.

Reddy reveals that the top 30 successful programme participants will also benefit from personal introductions to procurement professionals from both the public and private sector. Smart Procurement will leverage our well-established relationships with more than 2 000 procurement departments and over 24 000 senior procurement professionals to help the participating small businesses to access markets and opportunities, while equipping them with the skills to succeed in an increasingly challenging environment,” she expands.

“This is the fifth year that Smart Procurement has worked with the City of Cape Town on its supplier readiness project. The 2021 Smart Supplier initiative has been developed in response to the effects of the global pandemic. It reflects the City’s commitment to local business by supporting and showcasing more organisations than ever before, and by focusing on supporting, developing and training SMME suppliers – enabling them to engage with the city, the region and the rest of the country. This initiative serves as a springboard for the winners and finalists, expanding their networks and providing them with invaluable exposure for their businesses and connections with strategic markets,” Reddy concludes.

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