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14/11/2018

The Business School’s Inclusive Development and Strategic Growth Strategy, developed and launched in 2017, addresses its corporate citizenship contribution through a number of Strategic Development Projects (SDPs). These are all about making a meaningful contribution to socio- economic development, a central component of which is how the Business School can be more actively engaged in SMME development and entrepreneurial training   programmes at the local development scale, in line with the national imperative.

“We are researching and engaging with the Nelson Mandela Bay township economy, with the aim of becoming the ‘one- stop shop’ in terms of training and developing SMMEs in our townships to a level where they can become part of the mainstream economy,” Dr Jonas explains.

“This requires the development of young entrepreneurs and industrialists in our townships who can be capacitated to grow in the entrepreneurial and industrial space. At the same time, our ambition is for existing township entrepreneurs to develop into significant suppliers and industrialists, such as to the automotive industry, and therefore grow as employers in our townships.

“We want the township economy to become a manufacturing and producing economy, and not only a consuming economy as it largely is now. And though this is a township- focused initiative, I want to emphasise that anyone from any of our communities with an SMME in Nelson Mandela Bay will be assisted with business services as part of this strategy.”

A catalyst of the Business School’s strategic growth and engagement strategy is the Greenfields Project, as Dr Randall explains: “The purpose of the programme is to support the  emerging  and  priority economic sectors of the Nelson Mandela Bay Industrial Development Strategy such as agro-processing, tourism and hospitality, light manufacturing and logistics, as well as initiatives in the maritime and marine sphere, and in the fields of both renewable and nuclear energy, as well as oil and gas developments.”

“We have a range of partnerships for this, including the maritime cluster – which comprises other faculties at our university – our municipality, the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber and Transnet. As the name ‘Greenfields suggests, we are looking at new opportunities, such as the ocean economy and the renewable sector, that have not yet been dominated by the formal economy. It offers the ideal window to bring in disadvantaged black business people and assist them in claiming a strong business stake in this sector.”

To take this forward, the Business School is hosting an Oceans Economy open workshop in October 2018 where they are bringing in entrepreneurs to discuss insights into the opportunities and supply chain requirements in the Greenfields sector.

To contribute to the growth and development of young people’s basic business skills, the Business School’s Corporate Social

Responsibility team has partnered with the Glendinningvale-based Ray Mhlaba Skills Training Centre in offering disadvantaged 18 to 25-year-olds who have completed matric a one-day basic business principles workshop. Many of the participants are from the Eastern Province Child and Youth Care Centre (EP Children’s Home), founded in 1889 and one of the oldest residential children’s homes in South Africa. The Ray Mhlaba Skills Training Centre is closely affiliated with the EP Children’s Home.

Twenty to 30 participants are trained over the course of a day. To date, 109 students have completed the Basic Business Principles (BBP) Workshop with the Business School and gained their BBP skills certificate.

“The programme is very practical, with students experiencing real life business problems such as borrowing money from the bank, handling difficult situations, such as employees going on strike, as well as selling to and dealing with happy and unhappy customers,” Dr Jonas explains.

A student who was asked what they took away from this experience said: “Business is hard to learn but I have learnt so much. You don’t realise how efficient and creative you need to be to run a business.” Another student was asked whether they thought this programme would benefit others and responded, “Yes this programme could benefit a lot of people because it gives you a different understanding of the business world. You learn how to deal with many problems, from finance to selling. You also learn essential business skills, like how to sell and how to calculate your selling price.”

“As with all our projects, it is about serving as a catalyst for greater economic inclusivity and a more equal stake in the economy,” adds Dr Jonas. “The bigger vision is to grow an Entrepreneurship Consortium in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro and the Eastern Cape, led by the Business School, and we are busy piloting this.”

An initiative already in progress as a precursor to this, is the leading role of the Business School in the Student Entrepreneurship Working Group, which hosted a highly successful symposium with speakers from the National Department of Higher Education and Training and Business School alumni.

The Consortium will create a platform for empowerment and capacity building, by providing coaching and mentoring for emerging SMME business people and pursuing leading-edge research about the key drivers and enablers for successful entrepreneurship growth.

“In the Business School’s Leadership Academy we already have short learning programmes that help us to roll out new opportunities and synergies within the Greenfields sector.

“We have lecturers in the Business School researching opportunities in the ocean economy, such as Nomsa Hadi, who is researching agro-processing for her PhD, and Dr Jessica Fraser who is supervising maritime doctoral students.  In addition, we are currently developing a master’s degree in Maritime Business Management, which we will launch in 2020, and which will partner with other faculties, chairs, centres and units across the University’s ocean economy and ocean sciences domain.”

Contact information
Mr Randolph Jonas
CEO: East Cape Training Centre (NMMU Convocation)