The Free State’s second Smart Procurement World Conference and Enterprise and Supplier Development (ESD) Expo is envisaged to unlock new trade opportunities for local entrepreneurs. This is scheduled to take place at the University of the Free State’s (UFS) Bloemfontein campus from 24 to 26 February. Ongoing initiative by provincial government aims to bolster the economy, headed by the Department of Small Business Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (Destea). The project is to bring together the region’s public and private sector procurement and supply chain community, including local businesses. According to Debbie Tagg, chief operating officer of the event organiser Smart Procurement, the expo will help accelerate Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) on their journey to becoming mainstream economic players. At least 100 local SMME’s in the province are expected to benefit from the event. The chosen entrepreneurs attended a preparatory exhibition to prepare them for this expo.Tagg said the expo served as the platform for participating entrepreneurs to showcase their offerings to the procurement and supply chain liaison delegates. She said one of the key themes of the event was to facilitate contact between small business and regional, as well as national, buyers. Tagg said delegates representing various entities in the field of economics would share knowledge and discuss how entrepreneurs can effectively deal with the ever-widening gap between audit expectations and findings. Linda Riddles, compliance specialist of the Free State Provincial Treasury, said the expo would afford professionals the unique opportunity to interact with the region’s top procurement and supply chain thinkers and other national counterparts to discuss innovative ways to drive economic development. Riddles explained that with budget constraints and the high percentage of poor audit findings in procurement, municipality officials and supply chain management practitioners were encouraged to attend the conference. “The programme is current and relevant to anybody practising procurement in South Africa today. This is an ideal opportunity to broaden their understanding of best practises and to share knowledge across government entities,” said Riddles.