Seriti, in partnership with the University of Limpopo, hosted a graduation ceremony honouring small business owners from communities surrounding its operations, who completed a business development programme to help them run their businesses better.

The event took place in Maccauvlei, Vereeniging, and the two groups included classes of 2020 and 2021, who were unable to graduate due to the Covid-19 lockdown.

One of Seriti’s focus areas is community development and this aims to stimulate the local SMME sector in order to address the challenges that communities and the country at large continue to face, including poverty and unemployment. In 2019 when the programme was launched, Seriti’s objective was to create a business support ecosystem which provides the SMMEs with assistance in the form of training and mentorship, coupled with the much-needed funding support.

Thabo Masike, chief corporate and community relations officer at Seriti, said, “When we introduced our Enterprise and Supplier Development (ESD) programme, we had two goals in mind: To develop local SMMEs to create a pipeline of supply chain ready businesses that can secure procurement opportunities both in and outside Seriti, and to enable them to realise scale and drive supplier diversity in our supply chain.”

Essential courses for mining

Through the partnership with the University of Limpopo, Seriti was able to secure the best facilitators to help SMMEs master courses such as Business Skills and Finance, Project Management, International Federation of Consulting Engineers (FIDIC) Contract Management, amongst others. They were also taken through modules related to Safety, Health, Environment, Risk and Quality (SHERQ), which are essential in the mining environment.

To date, 170 students have successfully completed the programme, this despite the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. The facilitators adopted a hybrid model of learning, in line with the relevant alert levels and Covid-19 protocols at the time.

Limpopo University’s Professor JE Nel said, “We are really proud of the SMMEs for their diligence in learning and for successfully completing the programme during these trying times. The entrepreneurs have become skilled in compiling business plans, budgets and other strategic documents – and most importantly, they are now able to comply with all regulatory and statutory requirements.”

The programme is structured to provide diverse support based on the stage or level of business maturity of the SMMEs, as well as existing operating gaps, equipping entrepreneurs with the much needed skills and support to ensure that they are successful and sustainable, way into the future.

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