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Durban Automotive Cluster launches applications for Business Accelerator

7th February 2024

By: Sabrina Jardim

Creamer Media Online Writer


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The Durban Automotive Cluster (DAC) has opened applications for its Business Accelerator Programme – spearheaded by support from the eThekwini municipality and automotive companies including Toyota South Africa Motors, Hesto Harnesses and Toyota Boshoku South Africa.

The DAC Accelerator is focused on driving localisation, empowering black industrialists and developing commercial partnerships with high-potential enterprises in the South African automotive sector.

Its ultimate goal is to facilitate positive commercial and transformational outcomes for lead enterprises and participating small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), thereby unlocking growth and fostering economic development.

Head of the Economic Development Programmes department at the eThekwini municipality Takalani Rathiyaya says the role of the DAC in driving sector growth is critical.

“Initiatives like the DAC Accelerator, in collaboration with the government, play a pivotal role in supporting industry, helping them seize opportunities for sustainable growth.”

He adds that he is excited to see the talent that will emerge from the 2024 Accelerator and is confident that, in alignment with the programme's record of success, this year will be no exception.

Meanwhile, head of the Accelerator Kyle Ballard says this is a "once-in-a-lifetime" opportunity for SMEs across South Africa to take their business to the next level.

“The DAC Accelerator is designed to empower established, black South African-owned SMEs who have what it takes to supply industry giants within the local automotive sector, offering a unique pathway to growth and success.

“There is no other programme in the automotive industry like it and in addition to six months of hands-on mentorship with some of South Africa’s top industry leaders, qualifying businesses will also gain access to various other benefits.”

Benefits include several customers actively seeking new, local suppliers; expert support from industry leaders to enable business scale and growth; capital and investment opportunities to unlock potential; and a chance to win cash prizes.

To qualify, a company must currently, or be aiming to, offer products or services to industrial customers, be a South African-owned business, have 51% or more black ownership, have a yearly turnover of R50-million or less, be registered with the Companies and Intellectual Properties Commission and be tax compliant.

Companies must also have been operational for at least two years.

Moreover, aspiring SMEs looking to become suppliers to the DAC’s participating customers are encouraged to take note of the criteria being sought in potential local vendors.

This includes strong engineering design capabilities, reliable quality assurance processes, healthy cash flow management competencies, strong preference for world-class manufacturing leadership competencies, as well as International Automotive Task Force and ISO9001 compliance

The SMEs will be screened, with a shortlist of the most promising businesses invited to several stages of capacity building, culminating in an opportunity to pitch their business to senior decision-makers from the participating automotive industry customers, as well as several investors.

Where commercial opportunities between high-potential SMEs and the participating lead firms are identified, several phases of upgrading will then follow, focused on unlocking new sales and business scale.

“The DAC has been supporting regional automotive industry growth for over two decades. The ongoing support from the eThekwini municipality, big industry players as well as fellow DAC members is crucial in achieving primary objectives such as employment growth, private sector investment, and enhancing the manufacturing value-add of the local industry,” says Ballard.

The DAC Business Accelerator encourages and welcomes all interested qualifying black-owned SMEs across the country to apply before the closing deadline of April 15.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online



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