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Helping SMMEs (small, medium and micro enterprises) to weather the current testing times and thrive beyond the Covid-19 crisis was the goal of the recent Smart Supplier Conference sponsored by the City of Cape Town in partnership with Smart Procurement World. This annual event, which is now in its fifth year, saw delegates from a diverse range of businesses across the city come together to learn and network.
The conference was the culmination of the City of Cape Town’s 2021 Smart Supplier Programme, an intense training and skills development initiative and competition developed to empower SMMEs working with the city. The competition element of the programme saw the top 30 trainees enrolled in a powerful market linkage programme that will enable them to boost their businesses through personal introductions to local and African purchasing decision-makers. The conference was open to all participants in the City’s Smart Supplier Programme.
In his address at the official opening of the conference, Alderman James Vos, Mayoral Committee Member for Economic Opportunities and Asset Management said: “This programme promotes growth and stimulates the conditions to help SMMEs. Through our partnership with Smart Procurement World, we implemented the Smart Supplier Programme for City of Cape Town registered vendors. We also implemented various programmes and initiatives to help SMMEs through these trying times.”
The half-day conference featured compelling presentations that were well received by delegates because they were engaging, pertinent to business and geared towards supporting and enabling suppliers in the vital SMME sector, reports Smart Procurement World Chief Operating Officer Debbie Tagg. The topics covered included Covid-19 challenges, entrepreneurship, financial management and tender processes.
“Pandemic Start-ups - The Rise of the Immune Entrepreneur” was the title of a presentation by Elmarie Goosen, owner of On Purpose, and co-presented with Puseletso Modimogale, Managing Director of Mind Retirement Institute. “As entrepreneurs, when change happens, we usually panic. For us, change of mindset needed to kick in, and we needed to focus and evaluate what is working and what is not working, and be able to move on,”Modimogale said.
Goosen urged attendees to stay visible and in contact with customers despite the pandemic. “Seek advice and counsel from others on change. Review and prioritise goals and most importantly, show up every day,” she stressed.
Luvuyo Manyi, Vice President, Youth Economic Alliance, told delegates in his presentation that Covid-19 represented an opportunity to introspect on how a business should be run and how one needs to plan business models and adaptability during uncertain times.
Tender processes were in the spotlight in the report-back by Carlo Vizzi, the City of Cape Town’s Head of Enterprise and Supplier Development. “The City has created a community vendor database which allows vendors to register within their wards for particular types of work,” he revealed. “That’s how we’re slowly starting to transform to create local opportunities.” Vizzi explained to delegates that tender processes take on average five months. “The reason for this is that there are three different committees that consider the process. Very importantly, no politicians are involved or allowed in the process,” he stressed.
Financial management and cash flow lessons were also on the agenda at the conference. Speaker Phumla Maqula, who is a financial specialist, said that Covid-19 has stirred things up in SA and globally and has forced businesses to relook at the management of cash flow. She asserted that those businesses that are managing their costs more efficiently will be the ones that are able to survive the storm.
All the participants in the 2021 City of Cape Town’s Smart Supplier Programme are now part of Smart Procurement’s online business community where they will get access to networking initiatives, free training and supplier match-up sessions. “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,” Tagg states.