Eskom CEO Brian Molefe reported on Tuesday that some 1 000 emerging contractors had, to date, graduated from the Eskom Contractor Academy, established in 2009 to improve the business acumen of entrepreneurs and suppliers to the State-owned utility.
The academy is financed by the Eskom Development Foundation, but is supported academically by the University of Limpopo and operated by Edupark, a nonprofit company linked to the university.
Speaking during the graduation of the latest 58 participants, who were drawn from Mpumalanga, Limpopo, the North West and Gauteng, Molefe described the academy as the utility’s flagship initiative for supporting small and medium-sized enterprises.
Eskom, he added, was committed to strengthening the “entrepreneurship ecosystem and to eradicating barriers to entry” for small business. “Of all the barriers to entry, let fear not be one of them.”
The programme has been established specifically for business owners and consists of eight modules, with students attending a study school for one week a month over an eight-month period. The objective is to equip emerging contractors and suppliers with the entrepreneurial, legislative, management, leadership and technical skills needed to run a business successfully.
The programme had already received domestic recognition from the American Chamber of Commerce and the Oliver Tambo Empowerment Award and has been nominated for the International Education Partnership Network awards, due to take place in Oslo, Norway, in September.
“The calibre and commitment of our students has translated into many success stories. One secured a R100-million contract, while another grew her company from 20 customers to 850 customers,” Molefe enthused.
The academy was placing emphasis on black women- and youth-owned businesses with 53% of the 2015/16 student intake being women and 45% young people.