By MTHULISI SIBANDA
JOHANNESBURG – MORE than 100 small business owners have graduated in Midrand after completing the eight-month Eskom Contractor Academy course.
The graduation ceremony, held at the Eskom Academy of Learning, reaffirmed Eskom’s commitment to skills development, job creation and poverty alleviation.
Since 2008, more than 1 000 graduates have graduated from the Contractor Academy, which also boasts a 977 percent success rate, with a fair gender representation and a sizeable youth group.
Since 2010, Eskom has awarded 623 contracts to the value of R2,7 billion to Academy graduates.
Delivering the keynote address at the ceremony, Deputy Minister of Public Enterprises, Dikobe Martins, said government was committed to creating an enabling environment for the economy to thrive and encouraged graduates to go on to build sustainable businesses which would benefit communities.
“The challenges of the future lie ahead. Most small businesses fail within the first two years of commencing,” Martins.
Hence, the role of mentorship, training and knowledge transfer could not be undermined.
“What is learnt through the Contractor Academy is meant to mitigate the challenges you will face and be the difference between success and failure in your journey,” said Martins.
General Manager for Eskom’s Leadership Institute, Dr Andrew Johnson, concurred.
He said entrepreneurs faced many challenges, including red tape, a lack of access to finance and credit lines, and generally, the high cost of doing business.
“The Contractor Academy is our way of supporting emerging small businesses by equipping them with skills in business management to not only grow and sustain their companies, but also to enable them to operate efficiently and effectively in this tough environment,” Johnson said.
The training programme is offered exclusively to contractors and suppliers wishing to improve their skills in project and financial management, entrepreneurship, legislation and technical acumen.
As one of the Eskom Development Foundation’s flagship programmes, the contractor academy forms an integral part of the organisation’s commitment to enhancing the quality of life for as many South Africans as possible.
Eskom Board Chairman, Baldwin Ngubane, emphasised Eskom’s commitment to stimulating economic growth by promoting entrepreneurship.
Eskom believes that by equipping small and emerging business people with the necessary skills to build sustainable businesses, the country can start addressing some of its socio-economic challenges.
Eskom Academy upskills SME business owners
By MTHULISI SIBANDA