Hout Bay business owners exposed to opportunities

Eskoms Manase Mathabathe addresses the business owners at Hout Bay High School.

The Hout Bay Black Business Forum hosted representatives from two government parastatals in Hangberg last week.

The aim of the dialogue, hosted at Hout Bay High School on Friday October 13, was to showcase existing opportunities within Eskom and Transet to small business owners from Hout Bay’s disadvantaged communities.

The forum’s outgoing chairperson, Timothy Jacobs, said the forum’s numbers had dwindled over the years, primarily because members were unable to pay fees.

However, there was a desperate need to strengthen black business within Hout Bay.

Eskom’s senior manager for business strategy and integration, Manase Mathabathe, said it should be remembered that while the majority of black people were consumers, they also helped capitalists generate income.

“Our problem is that we look at ourselves as competitors. But look at the Plaza in Johannesburg, where a lot of Indian businessmen work. If a person goes into a shop asking for a specific pair of shoes but the shop owner doesn’t have them, he will send them to a store owner who does stock them. This way the money circulates within that community,” he said.

“You also need to change your mind-set. If you are a domestic worker, use your skills to start a cleaning company. Don’t underestimate yourself.”

Mr Mathabathe said Eskom always sought to uplift people. “At the moment, we are battling to find companies owned by people with disabilities or those owned by the youth. We want to support such businesses. If you know you have a disability, come and talk to us.”

He detailed a nine-month programme through which people were taught how to run their businesses efficiently, which had been accredited by the University of Limpopo.

“We want to create an enabling environment, and to develop and grow our existing suppliers as well as new ones. If you look at South Africa, we are building cars for foreign manufacturers. But you should be going out and making your own intellectual property. We should be making our own banks and our own cars.”

White-owned companies, he said, still had a lot to offer the country. “Don’t be afraid to partner with them. Black-owned companies have something to offer, in showing the white-owned companies how to do things differently. You should also be looking at joint ventures with these companies.”

Questions were raised from the floor over a lack of skills and how this could impede access to Eskom’s opportunities.

Mr Mathabathe then committed to a supplier forum being hosted in Hout Bay by the end of the month. It would involve representatives from various departments able to brief business owners on precisely what was required in terms of their skill-set.

Transnet supply chain specialist Elmondo Paulse informed the business owners that as of April 1 this year, any project coming to a local area and valued at more than R30 million had to source 30% of its supply business locally.

“We understand that there are small businesses in Hout Bay, but we need to find who they are and what they do,” he said.

“Importantly, we want you to work through structures, so that you can comply with our requirements. It is important to have a supplier database in each sector, it must all be under one roof.”