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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