Ongoing success for Worleyparsons’ ED programme

WorleyParsons Announcement – The ongoing success of WorleyParsons RSA’s industry-leading Enterprise Development programme reflects a real commitment to stimulate growth in the South African economy. Established in 2011, the programme is currently incubating 10 small businesses, most of which have enjoyed year-on-year growth in revenue, with a combined compound annual growth rate of 52% since inception. Together this group of small businesses has created a total of 104 jobs to date. Two of the companies are enjoying particular success – Black Jills Engineers, a black women owned engineering and project management firm, and Gridbow Engineers & Technical Services, an electrical engineering company.

Gridbow has received an Eskom Managers Award for Excellence for the successful completion of a substation refurbishment project in Mokopane. Black Jills, headed up by MD Lebo Leshabane, is predominantly a female technical crew of civil engineers providing its service to the likes of FNB. The company has branches in Midrand, Polokwane, Kimberley and Mafikeng.

WorleyParsons has partnered with Mike Pitsillis, a BEE consultant from MASMA Consulting, and specialists from Lean Enterprise Acceleration Programmes to deliver a comprehensive business assistance programme intended to drive sustainability and growth. This is achieved through round-the-clock assistance with procurement, sales and marketing, budgeting, tender applications, accounting, administration, health and safety, as well as financial and legal advice provided by WorleyParsons. All the entrepreneurs have access to technical support and skills transfer on a one-on-one mentoring basis from the WorleyParsons’ staff, who also assist with operational efficiencies and implementation of systems and processes like ISO and other quality management systems.

“What makes our ED programme unique is the direct involvement of senior WorleyParsons managers through a so-called ‘Shadow Board of Directors’,” says WorleyParsons CEO Digby Glover. “This Strategic Advisory Board meets regularly with the entrepreneurs to discuss issues of growth and strategy and to troubleshoot any obstacles they are encountering.” From these meetings, specific interventions are arranged, like specialised training and workshops.

“What is also critical for the entrepreneurs is to assist them with gaining market access,” continues Glover. “That is why we also sponsor them to attend conferences like Mining Indaba, Energy Africa and SA Coal Processing.

” WorleyParsons still has place in its ED programme for additional small, black- owned businesses which are complementary to its own business scope and which meet a specific set of criteria.

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Support from larger engineering firms helps stimulate small businesses

Continued support from government and major engineering firms through dedicated enterprise development programmes will significantly spur the growth of requisite skills and increase the survival rate of start-up enterprises in the domestic construction engineering and manufacturing sector. Central to the continued success of such enterprise development is the dedicated performance of the small business itself, which should offer considerable value-add to the company supporting it.

Emerging turnkey electrical solutions provider Gridbow Engineers & Technical Services COO Farai EJ Chabata reports that Gridbow’s inclusion in TWP’s enterprise development programme has enabled the company to pursue genuine empowerment objectives and, should other organisations follow suit, the potential success of small start-up businesses in the industry would improve considerably. “Government’s focus on upcoming national infrastructure projects, coupled with support for small businesses from organisations such as parastatal Eskom and industry major TWP, could boost the success rate of such companies, but it remains critical for them to institute the appropriate practices to create business models that are sustainable,” he explains.

Government announced earlier this year that it was considering expenditure of some R3.2-trillion over the next 15 years on more than 40 major geographically defined strategic infrastructure projects, which should provide significant entry opportunities for companies that are new to the market. Further, Engineering News reported last month that President Jacob Zuma said the local sourcing of construction materials for the planned infrastructure development projects would contribute to the local manufacturing sector and drive job creation. He further stressed the importance of collaboration between government, labour and the private sector in achieving the goals set by the infrastructure plan. “Government must ensure that these infrastructure projects include vigorous skills development and apprenticeship training drives to develop the industry,” Chabata stresses.

Gridbow, a 100% black-women-owned company, reports that its inclusion in TWP’s enterprise development programme has added considerable scope for growth and has driven its involvement in more than 20 projects for Eskom, Rand Water and technology manufacturer ABB. The company specialises in substation construction projects, protection and metering as well as telemetry and specialised electrical projects that have extraordinary health, safety, environmental and quality requirements. As a contractor for Eskom, Gridbow was awarded an Eskom Managers Award for excellence, following the successful completion of a substation refurbishment project in Mokopane, in Limpopo. The company is currently involved in several additional Eskom projects, including the Muledane substation, the Bakubung substation, the South African Chrome substation, the Veeplaas substation, the Bendstore substation, the Giyani substation, the Norplaats substation, the Mamitwa substation and the Gompies substation.

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