With 218 students set to graduate nationally from State-owned power utility Eskom’s Development Foundation (EDF) contractor academy by the end of this month, EDF CEO Haylene Liberty-Nel notes that the greatest milestone of the foundation to date has been the empowerment of black-women-owned (BWO) contractors.
The contractor academy is a project run by the EDF and offers an accredited eight-month course in business management and planning, marketing and other relevant skills for small and medium-sized enterprises, based on Eskom’s new-build sites, such as the Medupi project, in Lephalale.
“The aim of the academy is to assist in building sustainable businesses that can develop and expand in their particular sectors, while these businesses also empower women and the youth. “This is evident as, of the current batch of students set to graduate, 129 are male and 89 are black women, while 99 of the 218 fall within the youth category,” says Liberty.
The University of Limpopo’s nonprofit company, Edupark, facilitates the eight-month course, and the facilitators are sourced from Edupark, which, in turn, provides training for the students at the academy.
Liberty-Nel points out that the academy allows the students to fulfil the real objective of job creation, skills development and poverty alleviation.
“By the end of the 2012/13 financial year, the academy had successfully trained 299 contractors from all provinces, of whom 160 were male and 139 employees of BWO companies. “If the figure is combined with that of the current students at the end of this month, Eskom would have trained 517 students, of whom 289 are male and 228 are black women candidates. “Of the 517 students, 239 fall within the youth category,” she says.
As a result of the academy’s success in 2013, Liberty-Nel, on behalf of EDF, was recognised by the American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM) Stars of Africa Awards for the excellent work done at the academy.
“The AMCHAM presents awards for excellence in corporate social investment every alternate year. “This is open to all AMCHAM members, of which 85% comprise American companies and 15% South African companies that do business with American companies. “Eskom was the winner in the Incubation category for its Eskom Contractor Academy programme,” Liberty-Nel points out.
She highlights that the award comes as a result of the impact the academy has had on the students and their subsequent success stories.
EDF says one success story that has been quite evident is how a black woman contractor, currently based in Lephalale, Limpopo, who attended the academy in 2009, has developed and expanded her business from 20 to 850 staff members and her company’s turnover from about R57 000 a month to about R3.4-million a month, which can all be attributed to the training she received at the academy.
In a study that the EDF did last year, 438 contracts, with a collective value of R1.2-billion, were awarded from 2010 to 2012 to BWO contractors who attended the academy.