HCM boosts business

2012-11-30 00:00

BUSINESSES on the South Coast are getting a helping hand from Hibiscus Coast Municipality (HCM) in a bid to boost jobs.

Since up to 80% of new jobs in the region are created by existing businesses, the municipality has replicated an international initiative to “nuture” these enterprises.

So far, the reception has been outstanding.

More than 50 representatives from South Coast businesses covering the tourism and allied hospitality industry, agriculture, mining, manufacturing and the services industry attended the recent launch of the Business Retention and Expansion (BR@E) initiative.

BR@E is spearheaded by the municipality in conjunction with business consultant Ivan Naidoo.

Both want to create the best possible environment for South Coast businesses to thrive and grow in.

Municipal manger of economic development, Philani Khambule, said: “If we look post 2008 there was suffering for a lot of businesses and there were casualties.

“Now we are in a position where, as local government, we are not sure how local businesspeople are doing because there is no way of accurately measuring this.

“But at this workshop everybody supplied us with information which we are going to process so that in future we will know how private business is out there.

“This will place us in a position to offer advice and help.”

Khambule said emerging businesses had, in the past, received a lot of attention. Instead, it was those very important businesses which already existed and provided much needed employment that deserved attention.

Naidoo explained the rationale behind BR@E: “The economy of HCM must belong to all; local government, local business, to farmers and to manufacturers, all businesses, big and small.

“We need to all come together and find out how we are, what our issues are and how we can use HCM to help us address these issues to grow our businesses and to be more profitable and the best we can be. The excellent turnout at our first meeting shows there is interest in what we can offer local business.”

BR@E is based, according to Naidoo, on an overseas model that works extremely well.

HCM local economic development officer, Mondli Ncane, explained that the programme would benefit businesses because HCM would learn about established, emerging and informal businesses in its territory, how many there were, how they were doing and in doing so would then be able to offer them advice, links and practical help like speeding up processing business licences.

“There are all sorts of valuable areas we could go into, said Ncane.

“For example, how better to use each other as business partners and save economic leakage from the South Coast, like B&Bs getting supplies from Durban when they can get them from the South Coast.”

Thinking of new ways to grow business was another example.

“Having holidaymakers when the weather is good and well, but when it rains it causes congestion and is a problem because there is not enough for them to do, so here is a golden opportunity for development between HCM and business.”

One of the attending business owners, Mandy Massey, was delighted with the meeting.

“I think it was brilliant, long overdue. I commend Ivan and HCM for focusing on local business.”

Although there is a five-year plan with BR@E, Naidoo and the municipality have assured businesses there will be quarterly meetings with progress reports at each.

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